What Is Professional Negligence?

The phrase professional negligence is used to describe a situation where a professional person has not fulfilled the required standards in carrying out his or her responsibilities. This is a common law tort (a civil wrong) and professional negligence solicitors have become busier in recent years as the number of claims has increased. Occasionally, professional negligence is referred to as professional malpractice.

How Do You Prove Professional Negligence?

In order to make a successful negligence claim against a professional practitioner you will need to prove that the professional owed you a duty of care, that the professional breached this duty of care; and that the breach resulted in a loss to you. This loss could be damage to a person or property, or a financial loss.

What Is the Limitation Period for Professional Negligence?

Most professional negligence cases have a limitation period of six years from the date of the negligence or, in some cases, six years from the date at which the client became aware of the negligence.

What are the Elements of a Professional Negligence Claim?

There are three key elements you must prove in order to make a successful professional negligence claim. These are:

  • That the professional owed you a duty of care
  • That the professional breached this duty of care in some way
  • That the breach caused you some form of measurable loss, whether that is damage to a person or property, or pure financial loss

What Are The Different Types Of Negligence

A professional negligence claim is made as a result of a professional’s breach of their duty of care towards a client. Professionals included solicitors, barristers, financial advisers, medical staff, architects, surveyors, construction professionals, veterinary surgeons and more. The following list details some of the most common types of professional negligence:

Legal Negligence: Claims made against solicitors, barristers and claims management companies. Examples of breaches of legal professional duty include missed deadlines, errors in document drafting and negligent advocacy at trial. See more here: claims against solicitors.

Financial Advice Negligence: Claims are typically made against an IFA or other financial services professional and may be as a result of incorrect advice, delays in the provision of financial products or the mis-selling of financial products. See more here: claims against financial advisers.

Medical negligence: Claims (also called clinical negligence claims) are made against doctors, surgeons, dentists, other healthcare professionals, and their employers for substandard or negligent care that has led to injury, illness, poor health and/or financial loss.

Contributory Negligence: (Sometimes-called partial fault) Refers to cases in which the claimant bears partial responsibility for their loss – for example a vehicle passenger involved in a road accident whose injuries have been exacerbated by not wearing a seatbelt.

Vicarious liability: Refers to situations in which one person is held liable for the civil wrongs of another person (or organisation) – for example, employers can be held liable for the actions of their employees if the actions took place during the course of an employee’s work duties. Another example of vicarious liability is that of a dog owner whose animal has attacked a person.

What are the Major Defences to Professional Negligence?

The following are some of the most common methods of defending a professional negligence claim:

  • The defendant did not owe a duty of care
  • The defendant’s actions were reasonable and did not constitute a breach of duty
  • That the loss sustained by the claimant did not occur as a direct result of the alleged breach of duty
  • That a breach of duty did occur but did so independent of any loss sustained by the claimant
  • That the defendant failed to take reasonable steps to mitigate their losses
  • Volenti non fit injuria, meaning that the claimant voluntarily agreed to undertake the legal risk of harm at his own expense.
  • Ex turpi causa, meaning that the claimant was involved in a criminal act at the time they suffered loss and therefore may not be considered deserving of compensation.
  • That the claimant’s contributory negligence caused a significant portion of their loss

Oratto member lawyers have many years’ experience in dealing with professional negligence cases. If you would like to discuss your situation please contact Oratto on 0845 3883765, or browse the list of specialist lawyers and use the “contact me” button to send your enquiry to your chosen solicitor.