Most people trust professionals to have the best interests of their clients in mind while providing services. When professionals perform shoddy work, Maryland residents get injured. Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP helps accident victims across Maryland recover compensation when professional negligence leads to a serious injury. If you have been injured due to a professional’s negligence, contact our experienced Surburban Maryland personal injury attorney, today for a free consultation.
What is professional negligence in Suburban Maryland?
When you hire someone for their specialized skills or knowledge, you have higher expectations for the results you will get. Professional negligence happens when professionals fail to perform jobs according to industry standards.
In many situations, professional negligence results in monetary losses. For example, an accountant who makes a mistake on your taxes might cost you a few thousand dollars in penalties. However, sometimes you might suffer an injury from professional negligence.
Some professions that might be sued for injuries resulting from professional negligence include:
- Building contractors
- Mental health counselors
- Home inspectors
- Pest exterminators
- Repair and service technicians
You should not view this list as exhaustive. If you suffered an injury due to a professional’s negligence, the law gives you a path to hold that professional liable.
Differences Between Ordinary and Professional Negligence
Ordinary negligence applies when someone provides services that don’t have an industry standard for care.
Suppose your gardener left a rake on your lawn and you injured your foot after stepping on it. The gardening industry has no professional standard of care for gardeners, but the gardener did something every person knows not to do. This may be considered ordinary negligence.
However, suppose your exterminator mixed two dangerous chemicals incorrectly and the mixture left a poisonous residue in your home that made you ill. Here, there may be a prevailing industry standard about mixing and using chemicals safely. As a result, the law may hold the exterminator to a higher degree of professional care.
Professional negligence happens when a professional performs services without the care, skill, and knowledge needed to meet the industry standard of care. It does not matter whether the professional knew what to do but bungled the job or had no idea what to do.
Professionals can behave negligently in other ways, including:
- Selecting poor materials
- Using improper equipment
- Implementing substandard procedures
- Employing inadequate safety measures
Professionals also bear vicarious liability for workers, apprentices, and sub-contractors working on their behalf. Professional negligence can occur when a professional fails to exercise the industry standard of care in selecting, training and supervising those performing work for them.
Proving Professional Negligence
Ordinary negligence has four elements. Professional negligence uses the same four elements but measures the reasonableness of the professional’s acts according to the prevailing professional standard.
- Duty: Professionals owe a duty to their clients. They also owe a duty to anyone who could reasonably get injured, such as the client’s guests, customers, or tenants. Professionals usually do not owe a duty to anyone who was not a foreseeable user of their services. For example, a trespasser who gets injured while trying to break into a building probably cannot sue the building’s architect.
- Breach of Duty: The breach of duty happens when the professional fails to meet the industry standard of care. The industry standard of care is an objective standard. It does not matter whether the professional knew or intended to violate the standard. It only matters that a reasonably prudent professional in the same situation would have acted differently.
- Causation: The breach of duty must constitute the cause-in-fact and proximate cause of your injury. “Cause-in-fact” means the breach was an event in the sequence of events that led to your injury. “Proximate cause” means an injury was a reasonably foreseeable result of the act or omission by the professional. This does not require you to prove that the professional foresaw your exact injury. It only requires you to prove that the error by the professional was the type of error that could injure someone.
- Damages: You must show that your injury caused damages. While any form of economic or non-economic damage will meet this element, a minor injury will usually only support minimal damages.
The compensation you can recover will depend on the severity and duration of your injuries. Your compensation will include your economic losses and non-economic losses.
Economic losses include past and future medical expenses for treatment, therapy, and medication. Economic losses also include your lost income and diminished earning capacity.
If you suffer permanent injuries, you will have greater economic losses. Similarly, more severe injuries will usually incur greater economic losses.
Non-economic losses include all of the ways your injuries reduced your quality of life. Non-economic losses may include:
- Mental anguish
- Inability to perform daily activities, like dressing or driving
- Diminished enjoyment of life
Your compensation for non-economic losses comes from the impact of your injuries on your life.
Pursuing a Claim of Professional Negligence in Suburban Maryland with Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP
Maryland limits your time to file a personal injury claim for professional negligence. Contact a Maryland professional negligence lawyer at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP for a free consultation today.