When handling a negligence case, you may be dealing with a basic case of negligence or a case of professional negligence. Whichever category the incidence of negligence falls into affects the statute of limitations and how difficult it will be to sue the defendant.
If your home was found to have asbestos and a professional who was working on your home fails to inform you of the presence of asbestos, this would be considered professional negligence. This would be different from a motorist who fails to check before changing lanes and hitting your car. With the latter case, there is typically a statute of limitations that runs out after three years.
Did You Have a Contract?
Whether or not the negligence will be considered professional negligence is partially based on if you had a contractual relationship with the individual who was negligent. This is important because you may not discover that the professional was negligent until long after the statute of limitations potentially runs out.
Did the Professional Breach the Common Code of Ethics?
Another reason why professional negligence is an important distinction is that professionals have expectations that are based on the common code of behavior expected by those within the profession. For instance, a doctor is expected to operate in a manner that would not cause the patient harm or avoidable stress. Professionals not only have the responsibility to not cause physical harm, but they also must not cause emotional harm or economic damage.
A lawyer may also be sued for negligence if he or she causes financial damage when engaging in actions that most lawyers would not engage in. The attorney must mount a questionable defense to be considered negligent.
Could It Have Been Avoided?
One of the tests to determine whether the professional would have predicted the damages that you suffered is a foreseeability test. The professional should have been able to predict that the negative outcome would have occurred. There must have been a better option available that was also cost-effective. For example, if the better option would be significantly more expensive, the professional could have warned you that there was a more expensive, but superior, solution.
Even if you were the victim of ordinary negligence, an average person may have the expectation to have due care. If he or she is negligent, you will still be able to sue him or her for damages, but you must do so within the statute of limitations.
In any event, if you believe you have been the victim of negligence, contact a negligence attorney immediately.