Attorneys, physicians, accountants, and other professionals are legally obligated to provide competent professional services to their clients. When these individuals fail to perform their services with the reasonable skill and care their profession requires, the client may have the right to bring a negligence lawsuit to recover damages.
At Stanfield Bechtel Law, our attorneys have extensive experience representing clients and customers who have suffered financial damages due to professional malpractice. If you’ve been the victim of a negligent attorney or another professional, it’s important that you understand your legal rights. Contact Stanfield Bechtel Law to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can advocate for you.
What Is Professional Malpractice?
Professional malpractice, also called professional negligence, occurs when a professional’s negligence or incompetence injures or otherwise damages an individual or company. An individual or company’s relationship with an accountant, attorney, or other professional requires trust and confidence. When a professional breaches that trust and confidence by engaging in professional negligence, or by doing work that they are not competent to handle, they may be liable for any resulting financial damages.
Professionals Must Meet a Minimum Standard of Care
Professionals must use the same skill and care that others in their profession commonly possess and exercise. The minimum amount of skill and care a professional should use is called the “standard of care.” Clients should be able to rely upon and reasonably expect professionals to use a minimum standard of care when they hire them.
When a professional is considered a specialist in his or her field, the standard of care required rises to the level of the ordinary skill and care exercised by other specialists in the same field. Certain doctors and attorneys receive specialized training and education, so they are held to a higher standard of care. For example, doctors specializing in neurology are held to the standard of care of other neurologists’ ordinary skills and care.
Do I Have a Professional Malpractice Case?
Professionals are not financially liable for all of the mistakes that they make while they are in practice. In other words, the law does not require that professionals perfectly perform their jobs and never make a mistake. If your attorney loses your case, for instance, that alone is insufficient to bring a legal malpractice claim.
However, professional malpractice can occur when the mistakes are unreasonable and rise to the level of a breach of the professional’s duty to their client or customer. Malpractice is essentially the failure to exercise the degree of learning and skill that is commonly exercised by a reasonably prudent practitioner within the profession. This failure causes injury to the client or customer which the law can remedy by awarding monetary damages.
The best way to determine whether you have a valid claim is to contact an experienced professional negligence attorney who can evaluate your case and provide legal counsel. To succeed in a professional malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove the following specific elements:
- The professional owed the plaintiff a duty to conform to a particular standard of conduct by using the skill and care that other persons in the profession commonly exercise
- By some breach of that duty, the professional failed to measure up to that duty
- Because of this breach, the plaintiff suffered actual injury
- The professional’s conduct was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury
For example, suppose an accountant negligently understated a company’s assets on its financial statement. If the understatement caused financial losses, the company could pursue a professional negligence claim. The claim would assert that the accountant owed the company a duty to use the skill and care that other accountants commonly exercise. Reasonable accountants would ensure that they were not understating a company’s assets, which is the standard expected of members of the accounting profession. The company would also need to show that the negligent accounting caused it to incur financial damages.
Examples of Professional Malpractice Cases
Professional malpractice can occur in nearly any industry. When professionals fail to use reasonable care when representing or working for clients, there is a possibility that the clients will suffer consequences that they would not have suffered had the applicable standard of care been followed. The following are examples of negligent conduct that could support a professional malpractice claim:
- IT professionals harm businesses through the destruction of important data
- Architects or engineers fail to design buildings or residential homes properly
- Dentists harm patients by providing substandard care
- Accountants embezzle or commingle assets or company or client funds
- Real estate agents, bankers, brokers, and others engage in unethical transactions
- Title searchers misinterpret land record entries
- Attorneys fail to file a legal claim before the statute of limitations expires
- Nursing home staff fail to provide medical care to residents, causing them physical and emotional harm
Contact a Professional Malpractice Attorney in Connecticut
Stanfield Bechtel Law regularly represents individuals and companies throughout Connecticut in cases involving many different forms of professional negligence, including attorney malpractice. If you have suffered financial damages because of a professional’s negligence, we are prepared to help you understand your legal rights and options.
We’ve successfully represented many clients in professional malpractice cases and have the necessary trial experience to take your case to court if the professional’s malpractice insurance carrier is not willing to fairly negotiate. Our attorneys have a proven track record of successfully recovering favorable settlements and court awards for our clients. Contact Stanfield Bechtel Law to schedule a case evaluation today.