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There are many professions that fall within the ambit of “Professional Negligence.” Examples include accountants, architects, attorneys, chiropractors, engineers, physicians, and real estate brokers.  

Such claims often involve particularized rules concerning the elements of proof as well as defenses that are not available in other kinds of negligence cases. Generally, the touchstone of liability is that the professional’s conduct fell below the accepted standard of care. However, many jurisdictions have unique requirements for professional negligence claims. Some states require that a “Certificate of Review” be filed within a short time of filing a lawsuit stating that the Complaint does not lack merit. Demonstrating that the alleged negligence is the cause of the plaintiff’s damages can be difficult. Statutes of limitations can be a problem in some cases, and the time limits to file a lawsuit vary widely between jurisdictions and types of claims. In some cases, the statute of limitations begins to run when the client should know of the negligent act, even though the damages are not then known. For that reason it is advisable to consult an attorney if there is a suspicion of professional negligence. Damages available in professional negligence cases also vary depending on the jurisdiction and type of claim. Because professional negligence cases tend to be expensive and complex, it is important to hire counsel who has experience with such cases in the jurisdiction where the case will be brought.

W. Randolph Barnhart

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