Negligence refers to a person’s failure to fulfill his or her duties or obligations under the circumstances. It can describe an unintentional, careless or reckless act or omission that breaches the person’s duties of care to others. Negligence can cause serious personal injuries, catastrophic damages and wrongful deaths in some situations, as well as expensive financial losses in others.
Professional negligence is a particular type of negligence that involves a breach of duty by someone who provides professional services, such as medical care, legal counseling, accounting or financial advising. You have every right to expect a professional to conduct him or herself with due care, professionalism, and in accordance with the law and industry standards. If a professional fails to meet the expectation of reasonable care, you could suffer the consequences.
As a victim of professional negligence, you may have financial losses or personal injuries. At Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP, we work hard to bring those guilty of professional negligence to justice. Our Fairfax professional negligence lawyers can handle insurance settlement negotiations and civil lawsuits in Fairfax County on behalf of wronged clients. If you think you have a professional negligence claim, please contact our local attorneys for a free legal consultation. Speak to a lawyer today at (703) 218-4410.
Why Choose Us For Fairfax Professional Negligence Claims?
- Our law firm has a history of case successes spanning back more than 40 years. We have the practice area experience and in-depth knowledge you need for a strong professional negligence claim.
- Our attorneys do not stop at the insurance settlement negotiation stage during high-value claims. We have the power to take a professional negligence case to court in Virginia if we believe that is necessary for fair and full compensation.
- Our Fairfax professional negligence lawyers accept clients on a contingency fee basis. We do not charge clients out of pocket for legal representation. We only bill compensatory awards won, and only if we win.
What Is Professional Negligence in Virginia?
Professional negligence has occurred if a hired professional violates one of his or her duties of care to a patient, client or customer. Regardless of the professional’s industry, he or she will have duties and obligations toward the people in his or her care. These obligations can be legal, industry-based or ethical. A breach of duty by a professional that a reasonable and prudent person would not have committed under the same circumstances constitutes negligence. If the negligence harms someone financially, physically or emotionally, the victim may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party in Virginia.
In a professional negligence case, the concept of negligence remains the same as it is in other personal injury cases. Negligence is the failure to adhere to the expected standards or duties of care for the situation. Rather than just anyone committing the negligence, however, a professional service industry worker or company commits professional negligence. Professional negligence often refers to a breach of an established contract or the mishandling of a client’s case or affairs. Professional negligence can be minor or major depending on the circumstances.
Examples of Professional Negligence in Fairfax, VA
Any negligence, incompetence or intentional wrongdoing by a professional that injures someone else could lead to a lawsuit. At Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP, we have experience helping clients with a range of professional negligence claim types in Virginia. In a legal setting, the courts often refer to professional negligence as malpractice. Legal malpractice and medical malpractice are examples of professional negligence. Many examples of professional negligence exist in Fairfax.
- A doctor or surgeon making a preventable mistake that injures or kills a patient.
- A hospital refusing to treat a patient due to his or her inability to pay.
- A surgeon operating on the wrong patient.
- A mental health professional behaving unethically or breaching patient-doctor confidentiality.
- An insurance agent selling a client a policy he or she does not need, for commission.
- A financial advisor intentionally misleading a client to make a profit.
- A product manufacturer releasing a defective or dangerously designed product.
- A trucking company breaking a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration standard.
- An attorney failing to advise or represent his or her clients according to industry standards.
- An architect or builder failing to ensure a building meets construction regulations.
- An Information Technology (IT) professional improperly securing data.
- An accountant making preventable computing errors.
Professional negligence can occur in any industry. Any breach of duty, contractual violation or failure to adhere to industry standards could constitute professional negligence. If one person’s professional negligence causes another person’s damages, the victim may have the elements of a civil claim. Our attorneys in Fairfax can review potential cases for free, offering our best advice to clients about how to proceed with a lawsuit in pursuit of damages. As a plaintiff, the burden of proof will be on you during a professional negligence claim.
What Are the First Steps to Bringing a Claim?
Once you or a lawyer has confirmed the existence of professional malpractice, you must file your claim against the at-fault party by Virginia’s deadline. The statute of limitations on your case will vary according to claim type. You will have five years to file a breach of written contract claim, three years for a breach of oral contract, three to five years for legal malpractice, and two years for fraud, medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury and wrongful death claims. Speak to an attorney right away to make sure you meet the deadline on your specific professional negligence claim in Fairfax.
The defendant will need to respond to your claim in a timely manner if he or she wishes to contest your demands. An ignored demand letter will automatically give you the right to proceed to a trial against the defendant. If the defendant responds by accepting your professional negligence claim, it will offer a settlement to resolve the issue. Your lawyer may then negotiate with the defendant to settle for a fair amount. If a settlement proves impossible to reach, your lawyer can take the case to trial. If the defendant responds with a denial from the beginning, you may appeal the denial and then proceed to trial if an appeal fails.
How to Prove Professional Negligence in Virginia
During either an insurance claim or a professional negligence lawsuit in Virginia, the burden of proof will rest with you (the plaintiff). This is how the civil justice system works. It will be up to your side of the case to prove that the professional in question (the defendant) is more likely guilty of negligence and liable for your damages than not. Demonstrating professional negligence typically requires four main elements of proof.
- The first element is the duty of professional care. You or your lawyer must show that you and the defendant had a professional-client relationship at the time of the alleged act of negligence. Your lawyer may hire an expert to demonstrate the duties of care the professional owed you based on the terms and parameters of your relationship and/or a contract.
- The second element is a breach of duty of care. Your attorney will need to establish using evidence that the professional breached his or her duties of care. In other words, the professional was negligent. Your attorney can use proven strategies to demonstrate the defendant was not using the best-known practices available – or even the minimum standards of care – during your official relationship.
- The third is causation between the defendant’s breach of duty and your damages. The professional’s neglect or misconduct must be the reason you have damages. For example, if you invested in a stock and lost money, the financial advisor that told you to invest might not be liable if a reasonable and prudent advisor would have given the same advice. The defendant’s negligence must have caused your damages.
- The fourth is real and compensable damages under Virginia law. You must have documentation or proof supporting your claim that you have damages due to the professional’s negligence. Damages can include personal injuries, illnesses, or infections, as well as property damages or financial losses. It can also include the wrongful death of a loved one.
To have a case, the professional must have been guilty of an act of negligence, and this negligence must be the main reason for the damages in question. If you or your attorney cannot demonstrate proof of all the elements necessary, you may not have grounds for a claim. Note, however, that not all types of cases require four elements. A strict product liability lawsuit, for instance, does not require proof of the professional’s negligence. All your lawyer must prove for this type of case is that the item contained a defect and caused your injuries. Consult with us for information about your particular case.
What Evidence Do You Need to Prove Professional Negligence?
The evidentiary standard during civil professional negligence claims is a preponderance of the evidence. Under this standard, you or your lawyer will need to provide enough evidence to convince the judge or jury that the odds the claim is true are greater than 50%. Your lawyer may be able to accomplish this using many different types of evidence.
- Key witness or expert testimony
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Accident or incident reports
- A copy of your original contract with the professional
- Photographic or video evidence
- Bills, receipts or other evidence of financial losses
- Medical evidence proving physical injuries
Your attorney from Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP can help you preserve, collect and present any evidence that supports your claim to damages against a professional in Fairfax. Contact us as soon as possible – while key evidence still exists.
How Often Does Professional Negligence Happen?
It is natural to trust the professionals you hire to behave according to accepted industry standards. Most clients, customers and patients do not anticipate professional negligence until they already have serious injuries or damages. Unfortunately, professional incompetence, carelessness and breaches of duty happen more often than most people in Fairfax realize. A John Hopkins study, for example, found medical malpractice to be the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Negligence by other types of professionals is also relatively common. You are not alone as the victim of professional negligence.
What to Do If You Suspect Professional Negligence
If you suspect professional negligence from someone in Fairfax, contact an attorney right away to discuss your rights. Professional negligence is a serious matter that could lead to significant injuries or damages to you and your family. A lawyer with experience in this practice area can review the incident in question and let you know if you have grounds for a claim. If so, your lawyer can help you file a lawsuit against the professional at-fault for causing your damages and negotiate for fair financial recovery on your behalf.
If a professional’s negligence caused an injury, obtain medical care right away. Keep copies of documents that can prove your injuries, such as medical records and hospital bills. Collect other evidence that may be relevant to your case as well, such as photographs, the names of any eyewitnesses, pay stubs, police reports and communications from the professional in question. Collecting evidence could help your lawyer build a claim against the professional later. Protect your rights by refusing to admit fault and refusing to speak to insurance claims adjusters involved in your case until you have consulted with an attorney. Then, contact Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP to discuss your case in more detail.
Contact a Fairfax Professional Negligence Lawyer Today
Bringing a claim against a person or entity for professional negligence in Virginia could lead to financial recovery for your related losses, including medical bills, lost funds, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The defendant may also have to pay the legal fees and court costs associated with filing your claim. The settlement or jury verdict you might win during a professional negligence claim could help you and your family move forward after the wrongdoing or intentional fraud of a professional negatively impacted your life.
Discuss the value of your professional negligence claim – and if you have a claim to begin with – by contacting us today. We offer 100% free initial consultations so you can obtain legal advice at no financial risk. Our attorneys wish to answer your questions, ease your mind and help you build a claim against a negligent professional for no money upfront. You could be eligible for compensation from the professional and/or other parties, including employers or companies, to cover your economic and noneconomic damages. Call (703) 218-4410 to speak to our Fairfax professional negligence lawyers today.