What is Professional Negligence?

Professional negligence is something that most people have heard of, but they may not be aware of its meaning in law.
Most simply put, professional negligence is the failure of someone who has presented themselves as having expertise in a particular industry, to fulfil their responsibilities to the prescribed standards. Where they have failed in their duty of care, it may be that those affected can make a claim against them for loss or damage.

Who is considered a professional?

A wide range of people are considered professionals. These include doctors and dentists, financial or legal professionals, building and engineering specialists, and technological experts, such as IT companies. It covers any industry where clients are reliant on professional expertise and where they could be adversely affected by failings on behalf of the professional.

Why make a professional negligence claim?

If someone has suffered loss, damage or injury as a result of a failure in a professional’s duty of care, then they have the right to seek compensation. This compensation is designed to reimburse the recipient for at least some of the suffering or loss that they have experienced.

Professional negligence claims can also be used to highlight failings within organisations. They can be a catalyst for improvement and help to prevent similar situations from happening again.

Why have professional negligence complaints become more common?

In recent years professional negligence claims have increased. There are a number of reasons why. One is that more aspects of our life are reliant on obtaining expert advice to make the right decision or achieve the right outcome. In some areas of life, for example medicine, there is greater complexity than ever before, meaning more chance of mistakes happening.
Another reason is that people are more aware of their rights than they were in the past, and are more prepared to seek compensation when things go wrong.

What makes a successful professional negligence claim?

Not every failing deserves compensation. Bad service or mistakes don’t automatically qualify as professional negligence. That’s why, to make a successful professional negligence claim, the claimant must prove three things.

  • The first is that the professional had a duty of care to provide services of a certain standard to the claimant. This is measured by assessing what a ‘reasonable’ professional would be expected to deliver, for example, meeting specified deadlines.
  • The second factor is that the professional breached that duty of care, and failed to deliver the required quality of services.
  • The third is that the claimant can prove that they have suffered loss or damage of some sort. These losses are often financial, but may also be physical or emotional.

What compensation could I expect?

Compensation varies according to the case. Only losses that were reasonably predictable can be claimed for, and they are usually calculated from the date that the error or breach of duty occurred.

Are there any time limits?

It is usually the case that professional negligence complaints must be brought within six years of the breach of duty of care. However, if the breach comes to light at a later date, then there is a limitation of three years from discovering the problem. In any case, the absolute limit in which a claim can be brought is fifteen years.

Making a professional negligence claim can seem daunting. At Robinsons Solicitors, we have specialist solicitors with extensive experience of dealing with professional negligence claims. Should you need advice or support regarding possible professional negligence our solicitors will provide advice and expertise in a sensitive and empathetic manner.