Professional Negligence

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What is Professional Negligence?

“Negligence” occurs when someone fails to fulfill certain duties or obligations. It’s also a negative word no matter what industry you’re in. Few people take joy in accusing someone else within their company of negligence, and no one wants to be accused of such a thing themselves. However, negligent acts can and will happen every-single-day. More often than not, it’s completely unintentional, although there are times when “gross negligence” comes into play.

So, what about professional negligence? This is a very specific type of negligence that involves professional services industries, such as medical services, accounting, legal services, IT consulting and many others.

Professional Negligence is a type of negligence that occurs between a professional services industry worker or company and their respective clients. The concept of negligence stays the same. However, in the case of professional negligence, that “care” relates to how you are handling, or mishandling, your duties to a client and the established contract.

This form of negligence can be mild or serious, depending on the nature of the act and the profession.

Examples of Professional Negligence

Professional negligence is a more specific term for the broader category of negligence that can occur within any professional industry. Examples of professional negligence include:

  • Legal missteps, in the case of incorrect legal advice
  • Medical malpractice, in the case of missed diagnoses
  • Accounting negligence, in the event of computing errors
  • IT errors, such as poorly secured data leading to data breaches

What is Duty of Care?

Professional negligence occurs when a service industry professional breaches his or her duty of care to a client. The “duty of care” is more easily defined as the common standards you can expect from a professional in any industry. Every industry has different standards, and professionals are held to a certain standard, either through licensing requirements or by oversight boards, committees or organizations that define that standard.

The “duty of care” for a medical professional, for example, would be to provide the best care to a patient, using the best-known practices available. In situations where money or finances may be an issue, a doctor’s duty of care would be to inform a client about the costs of a procedure or medication and to help that individual locate the best care. A doctor who does not take that seriously, and fails to reveal a potentially viable treatment because the patient cannot afford it would have committed professional negligence.

A major part of a professional service worker’s job is ensuring that a client is protected from harmful outcomes as best as possible.

Still not sure what you need?

Head on over to CoverWallet’s Insurance Checklist. There you’ll find a list of insurance types needed for your industry.

Can Insurance Protect Against Claims of Professional Negligence?

Negligence is such a common issue in the professional services industry that insurance here is both common and often inexpensive. Professional Liability Insurance (also known as Errors and Omissions Insurance) is perhaps the most common insurance for protecting against claims of professional negligence. Businesses may also seek Indemnity Insurance, a similar form of protection that serves a slightly different purpose. Indemnity Insurance is designed to fit a shorter period and serves a more supplemental role to a larger liability insurance policy. Most insurance companies offer varying types of Professional Liability Insurance, which will be crafted to best fit your business and the issues that pop-up in your industry.