The elements of a professional negligence claim
In recent times there has been a significant upsurge in the number of people bringing forth professional negligence claims. This has been occasioned by the rise of the number of individuals that solely rely on the advice and skills of a professional. In a nutshell. Professional negligence is the breach of an ethical duty of care that exists between a professional and his client. In such a claim the client seeks compensation from the defendant to cover the damages and losses suffered as a result of those negligent actions. Accountants, Lawyers, Surveyors, Architects, and Doctors are some of the common professions that are subject to professional negligence suits. These claims are further based on the presumption that any individual who professes expertise in a particular profession is adequately trained and qualified to discharge the relevant functions thereto. Failure to discharge such functions judiciously is prima facie evidence of the breach of the duty of care.
However, it is important to differentiate a claim for negligence and poor services by a professional. Bad advice and poor service delivery do not necessarily meet the requirements/threshold required to prove a claim of professional negligence. In this regard, the threshold set for ascertaining such a claim is somewhat difficult to attain and therefore you need an experienced attorney to guarantee adequate compensation.
Duty of care
What gives rise to a duty of care? The contractual relationship between a professional and his client gives rise to a duty of care. A professional has an ethical and fiduciary obligation to be mindful and diligent in the performance of his responsibilities to the client. However, the relationship need not be contractual because it can arise in any line of business. In such a case the test of a reasonable man is applied to determine actions that amount to neglect.
Breach of duty
After establishing the existence of a duty of care it is thereafter required to show that the professional acted unreasonably towards his client. Hereby, the plaintiff is required to substantiate the actual breach based on the actions of the defendant. For example, breach of duty occurs when a doctor prescribes wrong medication to a patient who is later hospitalized.
These elements stipulate that one must show the injuries resulting from the unreasonable actions of the defendant. Further, a party must show that he suffered a pecuniary loss as a result of the injuries caused. Ascertainment of this element requires the provision of documents like receipts as evidence.