A doctor with crossed arms holding a stethoscope. They take claims of professional malpractice very seriously.

How to Bring a Professional Malpractice Lawsuit and Win

A doctor with crossed arms holding a stethoscope. They take claims of professional malpractice very seriously.

You’re passionate about what you do. So, when someone calls your integrity into question, it hurts. That’s the emotional reality of being sued for professional malpractice. It can be challenging to navigate the often complex legal process while coping with stress, anxiety, and confusion.

This article is your guide on how to bring a professional malpractice lawsuit and win. If you have further questions or would like personalised advice from a malpractice lawyer, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

What Is Professional Malpractice?

Some professionals have a duty of care. They must treat their clients in a way that meets accepted industry standards and ethics. If they fall short of these standards—intentionally or otherwise—they may harm a client. This client can then make a malpractice claim.

Professions that often face malpractice claims include medical practitioners, lawyers, accountants, and engineers.

Difference Between Malpractice and Negligence

Malpractice and negligence might seem alike, but they’re quite different:

•           Malpractice happens when a professional fails to meet the expected standards of their profession, causing harm to a client.

•           Negligence is failing to act with the care a reasonable person would use in similar circumstances.

Let’s illustrate with an example. Say a distracted driver causes a car accident. They are negligent. Now, imagine a surgeon who operates on the wrong part of their patient’s body. This is malpractice.

Malpractice claims are only relevant to professionals. In contrast, anyone can be negligent.

Types of Professional Malpractice

Many different types of professionals can face a malpractice claim. Some of the most common include the following:

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when healthcare professionals fail to provide proper care, resulting in harm to a patient. Some scenarios include failing to diagnose a life-threatening illness like cancer or prescribing the wrong medication or dosage. These situations can have severe consequences.

To avoid medical malpractice, always double-check diagnoses and prescriptions. Use high-quality, well-maintained equipment and follow all safety protocols during procedures.

Legal Malpractice

When a lawyer performs their duties in a way that breaches the standard of care, they may have committed legal malpractice. For example, a lawyer might fail to file court documents on time or mishandle client funds. They might show up to trial completely unprepared.

Lawyers can prevent legal malpractice by keeping meticulous, dated records. They should always communicate clearly with their clients and ensure no deadlines are missed.


Financial Malpractice

Financial malpractice occurs when financial professionals, such as bankers or advisors, fail in their duty to their customers. They might engage in dishonest or illegal practices or promote a product or advice that results in serious and avoidable financial loss.

Finance industry professionals should adhere to all ethical standards, maintain up-to-date and accurate records, and be honest and transparent with their clients.

Other Types of Malpractice

Other professions can also face malpractice claims. This includes:

•           Architects and engineers: Architect and engineering malpractice could involve designing or signing off on unsafe structures.

•           Accountants: They might collate reports or file taxes with errors.

•           Real estate agents: They might intentionally misrepresent property details.

A lawyer sitting at his desk working on his laptop with a gavel in the foreground.

How to Control Malpractice

If you are a professional operating in one of the industries listed above, you may be at risk of a malpractice claim. The best thing you can do to keep a hold on malpractice is to be proactive. For many, this will mean keeping detailed records. If the worst case should occur, you have a solid paper trail proving you followed the proper procedures.

Continual professional development and training is also important. Standards and best practices evolve, and ignorance is not a defence. Make sure you understand and implement the latest industry standards into your systems and processes.

Finally, consider using standard operating procedures. These documents ensure tasks are performed correctly, regardless of who is responsible.

You can also consult a legal expert to develop a risk mitigation strategy tailored to your specific needs and challenges.

Steps to Take if Sued for Malpractice

You’ve been sued for malpractice. Now what?

If you want to know how to deal with malpractice, the first step is to act fast. Contact a lawyer who specializes in malpractice defence. They can guide you through the process step-by-step, ensuring you avoid common pitfalls and give yourself the best chance of a positive outcome.

Then, collect all the evidence. Consider the documents relevant to the case, like medical records, emails, communication logs, and more.

Next, take the time to wrap your head around the stages of a malpractice lawsuit. That way, you can better prepare yourself for what’s to come. This generally involves an initial review, discovery phase, depositions, and court appearances. Your lawyer can give you a detailed overview of what’s involved and expected at each step.

Finally, be aware of the possible outcomes. Your malpractice case might be settled out of court, which typically saves time and reduces legal expenses. If the case goes to trial, the process will likely take longer.

However a judgment is reached, you must follow it. This could include taking steps to prevent future malpractice, like extra training or changes to your systems and processes.

How to Mentally Deal with Being Sued

The logistical challenges of being sued are one thing. But knowing how to deal with malpractice emotionally is another. Here are some tips you can follow:

Acknowledge Your Emotions

Feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear are normal. Allow yourself to process these emotions. It’s scary and unknown territory, but you are not alone.

Seek Support

Talk to trusted friends, family, or colleagues. Consider professional counselling or therapy to help you cope.

Maintain a Healthy Routine

Now’s not the time to give up your healthy habits. Engage in regular physical activity. Ensure you get adequate sleep and eat balanced, nutritious meals. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing exercises.

Focus on What You Can Control

You might feel hopeless, but you’re not. Stay organized and prepared for the legal process. Follow your lawyer’s advice and remain positive and proactive.

Avoid Isolation

Your support network is there for you, so don’t turn away from them when you need them most. Continue with your regular social activities.

FAQs

What should I do if I suspect I’m at risk of a malpractice claim?

Take a deep breath. You’re likely feeling stressed, angry, and unsure of how to deal with malpractice. Then, contact a trusted lawyer with experience handling malpractice cases.

How can I find a lawyer who specializes in malpractice defence?

Ask friends and family for referrals. Search online for a reputable local firm with experience dealing with cases similar to yours.

What are the common defences against malpractice claims?

A defence might include one or more of the following: evidence that standards were followed, consent from the client, and lack of causation.

Can malpractice insurance help protect me?

Yes, malpractice insurance may cover your legal fees and any settlements you are ordered to pay.

How can I cope with the stress of being sued?

Don’t withdraw from your support network. Continue doing things that bring you joy, focus on what you can control, and reach out for professional help if you feel you need it

A defence might include one or more of the following: evidence that standards were followed, consent from the client, and lack of causation

Get the Legal Guidance You Need

Figuring out how to deal with malpractice can be a difficult process. There are many important legal steps to take and many emotions to work through.

If you suspect you’re at risk of a malpractice claim, seek trusted legal advice. Contact Allan Rouben, a Toronto lawyer with over 35 years of experience. He can provide the support you need to defend yourself and protect your professional reputation with a compassionate approach.