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What is Professional Malpractice?

Definition of Professional Malpractice

When you hire a doctor or a lawyer, you hope that they will perform their jobs in line with the highest professional standards. However, not every doctor or lawyer always does a reasonably good job, and their patients or clients decide to sue. Those clients then hire a professional malpractice attorney to litigate their claim.

Terms to Know

  • Standard of Care: The quality of professionalism with which a doctor or lawyer must act.
  • Negligence: A failure to perform up to the standard of care, which causes injuries to a patient or a client.
  • Plaintiff: The person who initiates a lawsuit.
  • Defendant: The person a plaintiff sues.
  • Claim: A request sent to an insurance company for benefits.
  • Damages: The money the plaintiff wants to recover in the lawsuit. Damages can cover a wide variety of bills, including medical bills, lost time at work, and property damage.
  • Settlement: A sum of money the plaintiff accepts instead of going to court.

Practice Area Notes

Professional malpractice attorneys generally fall into two categories: plaintiffs’ attorneys and defense attorneys. Plaintiffs’ attorneys operate very similarly to accident and injury plaintiffs’ attorneys: they may charge an hourly fee or charge a contingency fee, which means they will take a percentage of any money their client recovers in settlement or trial verdict.

Defense attorneys are usually hired by the professional’s malpractice insurance, and are paid out of the professional’s benefit. Much like defense accident and injury attorneys, they can review the case, determine whether the professional is actually liable for the injuries, evaluate the extent of the damage, file important court documents, and advise their clients on whether it is better to settle or go to court.

Related Practice Areas

  • Medical Malpractice: A medical malpractice suit is a type of personal injury suit against a healthcare professional when that provider has injured a patient.
  • Legal Malpractice:
  • Accidents and Injuries: Personal injury defense attorneys defend against personal injury suits.
  • Litigation: Most personal injury defense attorneys will bring a claim to court, or litigate it.
  • Insurance Law: Most personal injury cases involve an insurance company, so a personal injury defense attorney must be well versed in insurance law.

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