Professional Negligence in Massachusetts

Professional malpractice in Massachusetts concerns the failure of a person who has held him or herself as a professional in a certain field to abide by or adhere to certain standards of competence and ethical conduct in that industry.  And, if you suffered harm as a result, usually economic in nature, then you may have a substantial claim for compensation.

Professional malpractice is a tort just like injuries from a motor vehicle accident or slip and fall.  A professional owes you a certain duty of care that is higher than the ordinary care expected of a motorist for instance since they possess skills obtained through specialized education, training, and experience. 

What is Negligence?

Professional malpractice or negligence includes more than just medical providers. Industries with individuals who can face professional malpractice claims are:

  • Medical providers—physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacists
  • Attorneys
  • Architects
  • Accounting professionals
  • Surveyors
  • Engineers
  • IT consultants
  • Pest control technicians

If the conduct was egregious, the professional may risk loss of their license if not greatly increased premiums on their liability insurance. 

You may suspect professional malpractice in any of these situations depending on the type of professional you retained:

  • The professional is not returning phone calls or other communications
  • Your case or matter is suddenly re-assigned to someone else in their office 
  • You are getting mail from the IRS about failure to pay taxes or fines
  • A designed or built structure that has significant structural deficiencies
  • The professional keeps making excuses about the progress of your matter
  • Your medical condition is worsening
  • The surveyor incorrectly measured property lines or boundaries

Should you feel that the person you retained is falling short of meeting your expectations, consider consulting with another professional in that field. 

Standards of Professional Conduct 

Every professional industry has its own standards that its practitioners are expected to follow.  Each professional is made aware of the standards of care and ethical responsibilities toward clients that that they are required to follow and practice. 

Medical Malpractice – our firm does not represent victims of Medical Malpractice

A medical professional, for example, must adhere to accepted standards of care expected of any other physician practicing that field of medicine in that particular community.  An error or a failure to live up to those standards can result in substantial physical and emotional injury to a claimant as well as death. Examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Failure to, or misdiagnosis of, a serious condition
  • Prescribing or administering the wrong medication or dosage
  • Performing surgery on the wrong body part
  • Performing unnecessary surgery
  • Failure to remove a surgical item in a body cavity that later leads to serious injury
  • Premature discharge of a patient that results in a serious condition
  • Violating a patient’s privacy rights
  • Failure to take a history or ignoring it that results in an adverse result
  • Misreading lab or imaging results

A personal injury attorney representing a medical claimant in these cases has certain steps to follow.  After a claim is filed and within 15-days after a response from the defendant medical practitioner is received the plaintiff must file an “offer of proof” to a three-person medical malpractice tribunal. Your attorney must provide medical records and should include reports from medical experts in the field of medicine at issue that demonstrates that the defendant failed to meet the appropriate standard of care and that you suffered injury as a result. 

The tribunal can ask for additional evidence before making a decision before they rule that there is a legitimate basis for the claim or not.  If not, you can still pursue a claim but must post a $6,000 bond to continue.  There are also certain caps on the amount of damages you can obtain that you can discuss with your personal injury attorney. 

Again, our firm does not represent victims of medical malpractice.  

Accounting Negligence

Many people rely on their accountants to file their taxes on time and with allowable deductions or to implement methods to protect their funds that can offer them legal tax relief.  If they fail to do so, you may suffer:

  • Exposure to large fines and penalties
  • Service of substantial tax bills
  • Possible criminal exposure for failure to report all income
  • Poor investment decisions based on faulty or incorrect data 

Making false representations, covering up embezzlement, and failing to abide by or deviating from Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS) or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) can be the basis for a malpractice claim. 

Architects and Engineers

You may suffer substantial losses from architectural and engineering decisions that are below the standard of care or competence expected of such professional, such as:

  • Faulty design
  • Failure to comply with building plans or code
  • Decision to use inferior materials
  • Structural failures causing extension repairs or demolition of the structure 

Legal Malpractice

Attorneys are typically sued if they failed to file a claim or lawsuit that meets the deadlines or statute of limitations that results in a dismissal of a claim.  To prevail, your personal injury attorney must prove that your claim had sufficient merit in terms of liability and damages and that you could have won at court. 

Other situations are attorneys who gave incorrect advice that led to significant economic loss or loss of freedom.  Attorneys are also expected to communicate with their clients.  If attorneys settle a matter without their client’s consent, it could lead to a reprimand or suspension from the state bar. If the attorney took money from a client trust account that they were not entitled to, this is unethical behavior that can lead to disbarment as well as a claim for damages by the client who was owed the funds. 

Attorneys also are bound by the attorney/client privilege whereby they cannot disclose private matters or conversations with clients. 

We have represented victims of legal malpractice for over 35 years. 

Malpractice Insurance

Most professionals possess professional liability insurance, also referred to as Errors and Omissions, to cover most claims. Many of these policies have liability limits that are several millions of dollars. 

Many professional malpractice or negligence claims present complex issues of liability.  If suing a financial advisor or CPA over a disastrous investment or business decision, there may be other factors that the professional had no control over or who gave you a choice of options for yourself to decide on. Other parties may also have been responsible and may only be identified by an experienced personal injury attorney.

All professional malpractice claims are vigorously defended and can take many months or years to resolve. Thus, you need a firm with experience, and one that has a history of aggressively representing their client’s rights.

Retain a Personal Injury Attorney from Burns and Jain

Professional malpractice claims are often difficult, time-consuming, and expensive matters to pursue and should only be handled by a personal injury attorney who has substantial experience and success in this niche of the law.  The attorneys at Burns and Jain have the requisite knowledge, experience, and resources to handle these matters. Call us for a free consultation at (617) 227-7423.

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