Professional Indemnity FAQ

If you are being sued for Negligence

Why would someone want to make a Professional Indemnity Claim against you?

 

If a client suffer some harm or loss as a result of a Professional’s carelessness, what could they do about it?

They can sue you for negligence and try to get some compensation for the harm or loss that they have suffered.

 

Is a claim worth the effort?

The claimant would need to obtain Legal advice to determine:

  • whether there is any legal basis to a claim
  • who is the person to be sued
  • the chances of success
  • the costs involved in going to court e.g. legal costs, court fees and specialist reports

In defending a matter, the court might say that nobody was legally at fault  because they did everything needed to satisfy their standard of care despite their injuries or economic loss.

Even though your mistake causes an injury or loss, the court might sometimes find that this mistake was reasonable and that you did not breach a standard of care. People do make mistakes, and these are allowed so long as they are reasonable mistakes.

For this reason, your insurers will hire highly skilled and competent lawyers to help defend the matter if you are being sued for negligence because these things can be complicated.

  

What would they have to prove to win a negligence case in court?

They would have to demonstrate three things:

  • That the person was owed a duty of care by you ;
  • That you did something or failed to do something that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would not have done;
  • That they suffered some harm or loss because of what you did or didn't do.

If it is due to you being sued for personal injury, the claimant will need to have their injury assessed by a doctor before issuing any proceedings to establish what level of impairment their injury has reached. They cannot get compensation for any injuries unless they have a certain level of impairment. This is something which a doctor decides.

 

Are these things easy to prove in court?

Sometimes they can be. Often the most difficult thing to show is what would be

considered reasonable in the circumstances. People can have very different ideas about what is reasonable, and if being sued by someone for negligence, your defence will be that what you did, in the circumstances, were quite reasonable.

It is possible too that they contributed to the harm and loss they suffered because of something they did or didn’t do.

 

How does the court decide who is right?

In trying to decide who is right and who is wrong on these sorts of issues, the court will take a range of things into account, such as:

  • Decisions that other courts have made on the same sorts of issues
  • Professional standards that might apply in the situation
  • Legislation (laws made by the government) that might state what is expected in the circumstances
  • The court's view of what the ordinary person in the community is likely to think about what is reasonable in the circumstances.

All of these things are open to interpretation and if you are being sued by someone for negligence, these things will need to be defended as strongly as possible.

This is one reason why it is important to be insured for these risks and receive the legal defence if you are being sued for negligence. 

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