Misfeasance occurs when an act is legal but is performed illegally or in an improper manner. A defendant is responsible for misfeasance when they willfully commit a wrong that causes harm to the plaintiff or breaches their duty of care by performing the legal act.
For a prima facie negligence case, there are four elements required: duty owed to the plaintiff by the defendant, breach of the duty, causation, and damages. A plaintiff is owed a duty of reasonable care, which must be toward a foreseeable plaintiff. The standard of care exercised towards the plaintiff should be that of a reasonable, ordinary and prudent person in similar circumstances.
Usually, misfeasance occurs in a business or public office setting. Misfeasance can occur in unintentional ways through negligence and without ill intent or violation of the law. The term is usually used when a professional or public official performs his job but in an improper manner.
In summary, a misfeasance is the act of performing a legal action, but in an improper way. The following are examples of misfeasance occurrences:
- A public official hires his sister without realizing hiring family members is illegal.
- A lawyer has an incorrect deadline and files important legal documents past the deadline’s actual date.
- An accountant makes an unintentional error on his client’s tax return.
- A business executive willfully ignores company policy and decides to try and take a short cut to save time and resources.
If you believe a party has committed misfeasance and has harmed you, you should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. The statute of limitations for misfeasance lawsuits vary by state and by act, so speaking to an attorney familiar with your specific case is important. If you are being sued for committing misfeasance, you should speak with an attorney to defend your case.