Suing for Professional Negligence in OntarioAugust 27, 2021
Suing for professional negligence in Ontario is possible. Professionals such as accountants, engineers or doctors are held to a higher standard than other professions as they are stewards of the public trust. When a professional makes a serious mistake that falls to the level of negligence, it is possible the error could lead to a personal injury claim. Understanding professional negligence will help you determine if you have a claim.
The simple definition of professional negligence is when someone fails to meet a standard of care in a way that any reasonable person in the same position and with the same knowledge would have met. In other words, it is not enough to simply say the professional made a mistake. You must also demonstrate that the mistake is one that any other expert in that field would not have made under the same circumstances. For this reason, it can be very difficult to prove professional negligence.
Examples of Professional Negligence
There are some fairly recognizable examples of what could be called professional negligence. If an accountant completed your tax returns improperly or did not adequately manage your books, they may be guilty of professional negligence. If the accountant embezzled from you or failed to detect fraud when someone else embezzled from you, you may also have a claim. You may have a claim against other professions as well. If you hired an architectural engineer to design a building for you and that building collapses due to an egregious error by the engineer, you could have a claim for professional negligence. A pharmacist who gives you the wrong prescription or gives you one that is of a significantly higher dose than prescribed, you could file a claim against the pharmacist. Other industries where professional negligence could exist include psychologists, financial planners, morticians, clergy, real estate agents and more.
Elements of Professional Negligence
In Canada, you must meet five elements in order to prove professional negligence. The first is the existence of duty for the lawyer to exercise reasonable care. Once you have established that that duty existed, you must prove that the expert failed to exercise reasonable care and that the failure caused you harm in some way. The harm must have caused damage, normally in the form of financial losses. The last of the elements of professional negligence is that the harm must be in the scope of liability. If you cannot prove even one of these elements, you may have difficulty suing for professional negligence in Ontario. One thing to remember is that, as a client, you are also required to fulfill certain obligations under the law. You must provide your accountant with all the information they need to manage your books. A pharmacist may need to know of any allergies to medication. Failure to provide complete information could limit your ability to file a claim for professional negligence.
Proving and Suing for Professional Negligence in Ontario
Before suing for professional negligence, you have the ability to file a formal complaint with the organization that governs the profession. If you have a complaint against an accountant, you would file it with the Chartered Accountants of Ontario while a complaint against an engineer would be with the Professional Engineers Ontario. However, filing a complaint does not mean you cannot sue the professional who you believe was negligent. In order to do so, you will need to talk to a lawyer who understands professional negligence and will be able to guide you through the process.
Do You Have a Professional Negligence Claim?
Although it can be difficult to prove an expert was negligent it is possible that you can obtain relief through a lawsuit. Before you seek advice, you want to review your claim to be sure you meet all the elements necessary in Ontario. If you meet all those elements, you may have a claim for professional negligence. Some of the things you will want to determine are:
- Did the professional have a duty to exercise reasonable care?
- Did they fail to exercise that care?
- Did that failure cause you harm, physically or financially?
- Do the actions fall under the scope of liability?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is possible you may have a claim for professional negligence.
If you believe a professional has been negligent, you need to talk to a lawyer who understands the complicated process in proving professional negligence. A lawyer will guide you through the process and work to get you the compensation you may be entitled to receive under the law.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is a general guideline made available for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as legal advice for the reader's specific situation nor in general. By reading our blog and website content, the reader acknowledges the above and understands there is no lawyer-client relationship created between you and Himelfarb Proszanski through this content. To get specific legal advice, we encourage you to book a free consultation with one of our lawyers to clarify the legal aspects of your situation.