Professional negligence, also known as professional malpractice, is a general intent tort involving the breach of duty owed by a professional to their client.

What Is the Duty of Care?

The duty of care is the responsibility to act as an ordinary person would in similar and/or same circumstances. For example, a driver of a vehicle has a duty to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians not to cause harm to them while operating the vehicle.

A professional has a higher duty to their clients to act as a skilled person would in similar or the same professional circumstances. This is because the professional has received specialized education and/or training, such as attorney or doctor. In both a regular duty of care and a higher duty of care, the defendant has a duty not to injure the plaintiff.

What Is a Common Type of Professional Negligence?

The most common professional negligence is medical malpractice. This form of professional negligence occurs when a medical professional fails to act in the same manner that a reasonable medical professional with the same amount of training and expertise would in the same and/or similar circumstance. This duty extends to doctors, surgeons, nurses, and hospitals.

What Other Professionals Owe a Duty of Care to Clients?

Attorneys have a duty of care to clients not to make critical errors a reasonable attorney would not make in the same situation. Contractors and architects have a duty to clients to ensure buildings are built according to common construction practices and government regulations.

How Do I Prove Professional Negligence?

In all jurisdictions, a plaintiff must prove specific elements in order to show that professional negligence occurred:

  • Duty of Care: The professional owed a special duty of care to the plaintiff based on their specialized skill as a professional and the nature of their relationship to the client, such as giving them legal advice or providing them with surgical care.
  • Breach of Duty: The professional, who is the defendant in this scenario, violated the duty of care they owed to the plaintiff.
  • Causation: The professional was the actual and proximate cause of the client’s injuries.
  • Damages: The client must prove the professional’s breach of duty actually led to damages, such as medical bills for an injury or the loss of a lawsuit.

Do I Need to Talk about My Claim with an Attorney?

Yes, if you have been the victim of a professional’s negligence, contact a consumer lawyer. The attorney will guide you through the steps of the legal process, such as filing a lawsuit for negligence and representing you at trial.