Often we have heard the term “professional negligence” but may not be exactly certain as to what sort of claims this refers to.

Any negligence claim can be brought as against a party who has, by reason of their conduct, caused or materially contributed to another person suffering injury loss or damage. This is a very simplistic statement of the law as it currently stands as it has been subject to modification by legislation from time to time. For those who are regular readers of my
column you will of course be aware that any reforms introduced by a government concerning a negligence claim is for one purpose and one purpose only. That is, to reduce the level of benefits available to the injured party.

A professional negligence claim is, as the name suggests, a claim in negligence as against a professional. A professional may be a treating health care provider such as a doctor or nurse but it may also include a lawyer, architect, accountant, surveyor or financial advisor. The list is endless. Anyone who holds themselves out to be a “professional” and upon whose advice or conduct another relies to their detriment, may be the subject of a professional negligence claim.

The general rules concerning all negligence claims also apply to professional negligence claims. That is:

  • firstly you must establish that there is a duty of care owed by the professional;
  • it must be established that the duty of care has been breached;
  • it must also be proven that the breach of duty of care has caused or materially
    contributed to the injury, loss or damage;

Claims as against healthcare professionals or builders can be readily envisaged. For example a healthcare professional is negligent when treating a patient and makes an error in relation to the surgery or if a builder constructs a defective home, then the cause of action is clear. There are some instances where the claim may not be as readily identifiable. For example, reliance upon negligent advice which results in a loss can also be sufficient to support an action against a professional. The leading case of Hedley Byrne & Co Ltd v Heller & Partners in 1964 established that a claim could be made for losses incurred as a result of the reliance upon negligent advice. This is particularly relevant for claims against accountants or financial advisors.

Brydens Lawyers are the experts in the prosecution of all professional negligence claims. If you have suffered injury, loss or damage as a result of the neglect of a professional person then a claim may be available to you for compensatory damages. Strict time limits apply to the prosecution of all professional negligence claims so contact Brydens Lawyers without delay on 1800 848 848 or @brydens.com.au. At Brydens Lawyers – #We Do Professional Negligence Claims.