Clients who work with an accountant for personal or business need to rely on the accountant’s knowledge and experience to guide them. When an accountant’s negligence or errors cause a client to suffer damages or losses, the client has a right to claim accounting malpractice and pursue compensation.
You’ll benefit from working with a skilled attorney if you have suffered financial losses or damages as a result of your accountant’s failure to act within the standard of care expected of such a professional. The accounting malpractice attorneys at Stanfield Bechtel Law have successfully represented parties injured by various types of professional negligence, including accountant malpractice. Contact Stanfield Bechtel Law to schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more about how we can assist you in your case.
Professional Accounting Standards
Individual states, including Connecticut, hold accounting professionals to various standards, which depending on circumstances can include accountancy standards set forth by the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), as well as guidelines enumerated by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). There are specific standards for accountants that cover audits, tax preparation, valuation services, consulting services, and continuing education.
Based on these rules, as well as Connecticut case law, it is clear that professional accountants owe their clients a duty of care. Some of the professional standards accountants must comply with include the following:
- Perform services with competence and avoid providing any services they cannot competently perform
- Avoid conflicts of interest
- Accurately represent and not omit material facts
- Obey relevant state and federal rules and regulations
- Properly communicate with individual as well as corporate clients
- Timely completion of the work given
- Not subjecting clients to penalties or fines
- Following all rules regarding audits
- Perform due diligence on the client’s finances so they have a reasonable basis for drawing conclusions and making recommendations
- Meet licensing and continued professional education (CPE) requirements
- Maintain accountant-client confidentiality
Do I Have a Claim Against My Accountant for Malpractice?
If you believe your accountant has failed to properly perform bookkeeping, tax work, audit work or has misrepresented your finances and one of these negligent acts or omissions has caused you or the organization you serve to be exposed to financial damages or losses, you may have a malpractice claim against your accountant. Call us for a free consultation.
Proving an Accounting Malpractice Claim
Accounting malpractice generally involves negligent conduct by an accountant, but it can also involve intentional behavior that harms clients. For example, when an accountant engages in embezzlement of his or her client’s assets, the accountant is doing so intentionally. In that case, the client would not have to prove negligence but would need to prove that the embezzlement occurred. This would still be an act or omission that is below the standard of care of the accountant and therefore, malpractice.
Many accounting malpractice lawsuits require the victim to prove negligence. The legal elements of an accounting malpractice lawsuit in Connecticut are as follows:
- The accountant had a duty to adhere to a standard of conduct for the plaintiff’s protection
- The accountant failed to provide services that adhered to the professional standard of conduct
- The client suffered actual financial damages
- The accountant’s act or omission caused the plaintiff to suffer financial damages
Proving that your financial harm was caused by an accountant’s breach of the standard of care owed can be challenging. The experienced attorneys at Stanfield Bechtel Law will investigate your case and work with you to determine if there is evidence that can prove your accountant’s negligence caused your damages. We will engage expert witnesses to explain what the applicable standard of conduct is and how the accountant failed to meet it. Finally, we can work with experts who will testify to the full extent of the damages you incurred.
Common Examples of Accounting Malpractice
Some examples of accounting malpractice include the following:
- Failure to detect fraud
- Failure to discover employee theft
- Faulty audits
- Failure to file proper or accurate tax returns
- Wrongful certification of financial statements
- Fiduciary misconduct (e.g. self-dealing)
- Failure to keep proper records
- Providing erroneous or misleading advice regarding accounting matters
- Deviations from GAAP, GAAS, and other accounting rules
- Faulty estate planning advice
- License fraud
- Manipulating financial statements for stockholders and partners
These are only a few examples of the many types of accounting malpractice that can cause clients to suffer financial damages. If you are unsure whether you have a valid claim for accounting malpractice, it’s important that you discuss your case with an attorney who can help you understand your legal options.
Available Damages in an Accounting Malpractice Claim
Victims can pursue damages for the losses caused by an accountant’s malpractice. The remedy for these types of claims involves monetary awards that compensate victims for their losses. The purpose of an award of monetary damages is to restore the claimant to the same financial situation that they would have been in if not for the accountant’s negligent behavior.
The amount of potential damages depends on the specific circumstances of each lawsuit. Our firm will seek all available damages by thoroughly examining the details of your case and demonstrating exactly how the accountant committed malpractice.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
If you have suffered financial damages due to accountant negligence, you only have a limited amount of time to file a claim for compensation. A general rule of thumb, though with some exceptions, is that you have three years from the date of the negligence or malpractice to bring a lawsuit. This means that a lawyer must investigate your claim well before the three years expires. There are exceptions that we can discuss with you when we speak about your claims.
Contact a Connecticut Accounting Malpractice Attorney
If you or your business has sustained losses because an accountant failed to follow the standard of care you were owed, you may have a valid malpractice claim. No matter how complex an accountant’s errors, omissions, or misconduct, the attorneys at Stanfield Bechtel Law are prepared to represent you. We are committed to fighting for you and bringing all applicable claims to seek maximum compensation that is due to you as a result of professional malpractice, whether by settlement or if necessary in court. Contact Stanfield Bechtel Law to schedule a free case evaluation with our Connecticut accounting malpractice attorneys.