There is nothing more frustrating than hiring an expert for an important task, then seeing the entire thing go up in smoke due to his or her professional negligence. If you’ve solicited the help of a professional recently, (whether it’s a lawyer, doctor, real estate agent, accountant, tax/financial adviser, architect, etc.) but felt that you received sub-par service that caused you a loss in time or money, there are certain steps you can take to make up for the damage done. Perhaps you will not be able to reverse the errors or omissions committed in the process, but you may, and should, receive compensation for the harm you’ve endured.
With wider access to information on customer rights, the awareness of professional negligence has risen enormously over the years, and is improving the level of service provided by professionals across all kinds of industries on a global scale.
Claiming professional negligence in court, however, can be a lengthy process, with legal costs quickly piling up, and even surpassing the value of the initial claim. Weigh all the pros and cons, and make sure your claim stands on firm ground before taking action.
This is what you need to consider:
- Prove the breach of duty of care
If the professional you hired did not provide a service that met the standards of a “reasonably competent professional”, which is taking into considerations the level of standard that normally apply to that industry and profession, the result is a breach of duty of care. The level of seniority does not come into question – you’re entitled to competent service whether you hired someone straight out of school or a senior-level professional with more than 30 years of experience in the field. However, keep in mind that demonstrating the breach in court can be a delicate endeavour, as the test for a minimum level of quality service of a profession, while objective in theory, needs to be applied to each case. In some cases, a body of professional opinion, like an association, will need to factor in the decision.
- Prove the breach caused you a loss
Demonstrating the suffered loss is quintessential in your negligence claim, for even if the professional was negligent, there is no ground for claim if such behavior did not result in a loss for the client. Therefore, to claim negligence, it is key that you provide proof that a) you have suffered a loss, and that b) the loss was caused by the breach of duty of care. Putting the blame on other factors, such as unfavourable market conditions or mistakes from a third party, will get you nowhere. Likewise, an error or simply bad service by the professional does not necessarily mean negligence in court.
How do you draw the line? In such cases, it is helpful to apply the “but for” test. But for the professional’s mistake, would you have have suffered a loss? In other words, would the damage occur regardless, despite the professional having acted in such a negligent way? Did other factors intervene, which eventually led to the bad result?
- Claim negligence on time
The sooner you file the claim, the stronger your case appears. According to UK laws, the limitation period is six years from the date of the negligence; however, this time frame can be extended exceptionally if the loss caused by the negligent professional service became apparent later in time, i.e. three years from the date of knowledge of the facts that indicate of professional negligence.
- What else you need to know
If contributory negligence is established, which is to say the court has decided you are partly responsible for the loss caused by negligence, you should be aware this may affect the amount the recompense you receive.
Another option to consider is “Professional Negligence Pre- Action Protocol”, published here by the Ministry of Justice, which sets out a framework that helps you to settle things outside of court. This may be a good choice if the professional is willing to admit his or her mistake and the damage it has caused you, or if you don’t have the resources to take the matter before the court.
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Have you been a victim of negligent service and think that you have enough cause to take the matter into court? Speak to our finest lawyers and find out what steps you can take to mitigate your losses. Get legal help here, quick, easy and efficient.