Professional negligence may have occurred when an individual or organisation acting in a professional capacity has breached their duty of care towards a client, resulting in injury, damages or financial loss.
For a professional negligence claim to succeed, there are four key elements that must be proven;
- that the professional owed you a duty of care, which might have arisen because a contract exists between the two of you;
- this duty of care was breached by the actions of the professional e.g. through poor advice or incompetence;
- that the breach caused you a loss whether it be financially, in health etc;
- that any loss you incurred was a direct result of the professional’s breach.
In this article, the legal team at Wilson Browne explains how the four elements of professional negligence need to be proven in order to give you the best chance of winning your case.
What Does It Take to Prove Professional Negligence?
- Duty of Care
For a claim to be made, it’s important that a duty of care is established between the two parties involved in the dispute. Without this, there can be no claim of professional negligence.
A duty of care exists when the law recognises that one party has a responsibility towards another. In the case of professional negligence, you could have a signed contract or agreement of work showing that you employed an individual or organisation in a professional capacity, and they therefore had a duty of care towards you, their client.
- Breach of Duty of Care
The basis of a professional negligence claim is that a duty of care has been breached by the party in a position of responsibility.
Duty of care can be breached in many different ways, and that depends on the work you employed a professional to carry out. Broadly, a breach of duty of care may occur when the professional has failed in their responsibilities towards you; such as giving ill advice, not following your instructions correctly, failing to correctly sell or buy property, or making errors in legal documents.
You may only pursue a claim of compensation for professional negligence if you can prove that you’ve suffered damages.
This could be injury, a financial loss, or disruption to your career, professional or family life. Without proving that some form of damage exists, there are no grounds on which to claim financial compensation.
Finally, it must be proven that any financial loss or damage sustained by you (the claimant) was the direct result of a professional breaching their duty of care towards you (their client).
To prove these four elements, your case will need to be supported by appropriate documentation, evidence and witnesses to give you the strongest possible chance of a positive outcome.
Time Limits – Are there any?
Professional negligence cases have legal time limits attached to them. Claims need to be made within 6 years of the date that the loss occurred, however in some exceptional circumstances, this timeframe can be extended. Due to the tight time limits, it is best to seek legal advice sooner rather than later. Incidents of professional negligence are difficult and often complicated cases to prove, so it’s important that you seek professional advice from skilled lawyers before pursuing a claim.