Defining professional negligence

In legal terms, negligence is a failure to provide the proper duty of care. When applied to the professional sphere, this refers to a person or company claiming to have experience and expertise giving substandard advice or assistance that risks harm to the client. 

Examples of professional negligence

As professional negligence covers all industries, it is extremely wide-ranging. It is most often discussed in industries where bad advice or treatment could cause serious physical harm or a significant financial loss, including healthcare and construction.

These common examples of professional negligence should give you an idea of the scope and diversity of these events:

  • IT errors in the NHS computer system leading to patient death and delayed treatment
  • Poor workmanship or substandard materials rendering your living space unsafe
  • A financial advisor failing to mention tax liabilities resulting in legal penalties for the client
  • Incompetent advice or representation from a legal professional harming your case or claim
  • Healthcare professional misdiagnosis causing injury or worsening a pre-existing condition

How to respond to professional negligence

When you agree to a contract with a provider of professional services, they have a legal responsibility to give you the best possible advice and care. The same principle also applies to public sector systems from which people seek specialist guidance and treatment.

If you suspect that a person or company has been substandard in their behaviour, you can investigate the option of a professional negligence claim to request damages to be paid. In all cases, get back on track as soon as possible by seeking out better advice or care from another company. 

Safeguarding against professional negligence

  1. Check advice

Double-check any advice that will have a significant impact on your lifestyle against other sources. This might include getting a second opinion from another professional, asking experienced friends and family, or doing online research via reliable sources.

2. Think twice

Especially if the guidance you’re given seems out of line with the general view, think twice about committing. When your physical health or financial security is at risk, it cannot hurt to be too careful.

3. Keep evidence

Track all communication between you and the company, from emails and letters to phone calls. This is often essential in proving negligent care in a legal claims process. Ask for a written copy of any advice given and detailed explanations of why the guidance applies to your specific situation. 

4. Company background

Before you get involved with a company, do a thorough assessment of their background to ensure you’re working with a trustworthy business. Look for how many years they’ve been established, their level of knowledge, qualifications and awards, and reviews showing reliability. 


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