Professional Negligence vs. Ordinary Negligence
Nov. 18, 2022
Negligence is a big factor in insurance claims and lawsuits. For instance, if you leave your home in the morning and then crash into another vehicle, you can be held responsible for any injuries and damages you caused due to your negligence.
If you’re a professional, such as a doctor, realtor, financial advisor, architect, or the like, negligence is also a huge factor in liability claims. Professional negligence often results from what is termed “errors and omissions.”
So, how does professional negligence differ from ordinary negligence? The answer is that it hinges on the nature of the business where the negligence occurs. For instance, if you buy a home and your broker/realtor fails to properly disclose all the terms and conditions of the transaction and it results in damages to you as the buyer, that could fall under professional negligence.
If you or your business needs to pursue a professional negligence claim in or around Chandler, Arizona, contact the attorneys at Arnett & Arnett, PC. We have more than 30 years’ experience in navigating negligence claims in the face of resistance and delaying tactics by insurance companies. We can help you navigate the system to obtain the just compensation due to you.
Arnett & Arnett, PC also proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, and throughout the state of Arizona.
What Qualifies as Negligence?
Negligence is defined as “the degree of caution and concern for the safety of himself/herself and others an ordinarily prudent and rational person would use in the circumstances,” according to the legal site dictionary.law.com. Boiled down, this means that the person accused of negligence did not exercise reasonable care.
This definition and standard of reasonable care apply whether it’s a vehicular crash, an avoidable slip-and-fall injury in a commercial business, or a professional service being provided.
What Does Professional Negligence Consist Of?
Probably the most obvious and headline-worthy example of professional negligence is medical malpractice, but as in our earlier real estate example, any professional can do or fail to do something that causes harm to their client or customer.
Financial advisors whose error or omission (mistake) causes a client to lose investment assets is another example. Other professionals at risk of professional negligence and resulting claims include but are not limited to:
Accountants or auditors: Not filing a client’s tax form on time
Architects: Having errors on blueprints
Engineers: Delays in project completion or budget overruns
Insurance professionals: Misrepresenting policy coverage
Prevailing in a Professional Negligence Claim
If you file a claim for professional negligence, the question is whether the professional exercised reasonable care. To do this assessment, two methods are usually employed: the foreseeability test and the multifactor test.
The foreseeability test asks whether the professional could or should have been able to reasonably foresee the resulting harm from their actions. “Should have” can often prove the deciding factor, especially if the claim ends up in court. If other professionals in the same field would have foreseen the consequences, then the person being accused should have also. Expert testimony can be used to assert the claim that the harm should have been reasonably foreseen.
The multifactor test, as its name implies, takes into consideration several factors, including:
The severity of the harm caused
Whether the professional could have taken a different course of action
The cost of a different course of action
Whether there were safer or less harmful alternatives
For a claim to be successful, the claimant must show that the service provided was less than the expected standard of the profession. In addition, there must have been actual negative consequences suffered, such as financial loss, damages, or injury to the client or customer.
Trusted Guidance: Arnett & Arnett, PC
If you have suffered harm or loss as the result of professional negligence, most professionals carry professional liability insurance, so you can pursue an insurance claim. Insurers, however, have a way of protecting their bottom line, so you can expect that your claim will be greeted with endless questioning and challenges. The insurer will do everything to limit or deny your claim.
For that reason, if you’re anywhere in Arizona, rely on Arnett & Arnett, PC to handle both your claim and the insurance company, even to the point of filing a lawsuit if necessary. Reach out today for a free consultation.