Professional Liability Laws

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What Is Professional Liability?

Professional liability refers to the ability to hold a professional accountable for any instances of negligence or malpractice when dealing with a client. Professionals may be subject to higher standards when it comes to negligence and malpractice due to their specialized knowledge in their particular field. 

As such, professionals are expected to make all the appropriate disclosures to a client that are reasonably necessary to protect them from harm. Also, a professional practitioner must adhere to the standards for practice that are associated with their practice field.  For example, a knee surgeon will be held to the standards applicable to knee surgery, while a dentist will be held to dentistry standards, etc.

What Are Professional Liability Laws?

Each jurisdiction may maintain very diverse laws and rules governing professional liability. In fact, the licensing authority for each type of profession may issue its own set of rules and standards governing professional liability. This will help to make it clear what the professional practitioner is or isn’t expected to do. 

A classic example of this is with doctors and medical professionals. They usually need to pass some sort of ethics test in addition to their skilled test for their field. These will help them understand their legal obligations to patients and clients.

What Is Professional Liability Insurance?

Professional liability insurance is a special type of insurance meant to protect professionals from unsound or frivolous patient claims (for example, if the client has made a misrepresentation about malpractice). Professional liability insurance may be necessary because standard commercial insurance usually only covers things like bodily injuries, advertising losses, and property damage.

Some professionals may choose to be part of a professional corporation. This is a type of business formation intended to help professionals network with one another and obtain a clientele base. However, membership in a professional corporation usually doesn’t affect the individual professional’s responsibility or their liability insurance coverage. 

Therefore when suing for professional malpractice, it’s important to understand how professional liability works, and whether the professional is covered by the various insurance policies available to professionals. 

Seeking Legal Help

Professional liability can often be a very technical, complex area of law. Each different profession is subject to highly differentiated ethics and responsibility requirements. If you need assistance with filing a professional liability claim, you may wish to contact a qualified lawyer in your area. Your lawyer can help explain the laws to you, and can represent you in court as you file for the appropriate remedy.

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Last Modified: 01-24-2014 02:42 PM PST

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