Professional malpractice is defined as the intentional and/or negligent conduct of professionals in the normal course of professional client services that has caused damage to the client. Examples of malpractice include a doctor purposely misdiagnosing for the purposes of increasing insurance costs, an accountant overcharging for services, or an attorney improperly co-mingling client funds with a personal account.Professional malpractice is the “umbrella” term for all kinds of malpractice. As part of their professional code of conduct, lawyers, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, accountants, and other professionals are required to provide their clients with a level of care that is both ethical and meets certain professional standards.
There are initial things that have to be proven to establish a case of professional malpractice:
- Did an actual client-relationship exist?
- Was there a breach of the duty of care by the professional in the relationship with the client?
- Did the breach by the professional cause harm to the client?
- Was there a loss or injury suffered by the client as a result of the wrongful actions by the professional (i.e., would the client have had a different outcome if the professional had acted according to the standards of professional conduct in their industry?).
Most cases of professional malpractice are not clear-cut and obvious. As such, it is important to see an attorney immediately to investigate your claim to investigate the subtleties and complexities that may belie a malpractice claim. In many instances, expert witnesses will need to testify to prove a case and that can be a considerable amount of time and expense for the aggrieved party to fight alone. One thing to note is that an unfavorable result in the services rendered does not equal a professional malpractice claim. For example, your business owing the IRS a large sum does not mean the accountant acted negligently. Rather, it must be proven that the accountant acted negligently (i.e., failed to file your taxes in a timely manner) and that conduct was the cause of why your business owes the IRS a large sum.
Many professionals are required to carry malpractice insurance specifically for situations where they may fall below the standard of care for their industry. Adverse consequences to professionals include large jury verdicts, loss of professional licensure, disciplinary proceedings, and loss of livelihood.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Your case may be different.
Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance. If you believe you may have a claim for malpractice contact an experienced malpractice attorney in Chicago or call us at 1-800-275-2529 to set up a FREE consultation to discuss your legal options.