Professional Negligence FAQs

Can I make a professional negligence claim?
If you have suffered financial loss as a result of negligent advice or professional services from someone like a lawyer, architect, accountant, financial advisor, engineer or surveyor, in Queensland or elsewhere, you may be entitled to compensation.  We can advise you in detail about your right to claim and your prospects of success.
 
Most professions require their members to hold professional indemnity insurance as a condition of registration. Your claim will be handled by the insurer, not the defendant personally, and it is the insurer who will pay any damages.
 
A complaint may also be made to the relevant professional body.
 
Different rules can apply in other states and overseas – we can advise you about that.
 
How do I make a professional negligence claim?
Notice needs to be given to the defendant.  Strict time limits apply – you need to get expert advice now about the time limits which apply to you.
 
What can I claim in a professional negligence claim?
It is impossible even to estimate the amount of damages you might recover without knowing a lot more about you and your claim. Damages you might recover include:
  • Financial loss flowing from the negligent work or advice
  • The cost of rectifying the problem
  • In some circumstances, damages to compensate you for personal injury you have suffered.
 
Do I need a lawyer to make a professional negligence claim?
No, you can handle the claim yourself.
 
However, insurers have extensive experience in defending professional negligence claims and will often instruct lawyers to act on their behalf.  Insurers cannot provide you with independent advice.  You may find yourself at a disadvantage if you do not have legal representation.
 
Will the insurer pay my legal costs in a professional negligence claim?
If the insurer is required to pay something towards your costs, it will not cover your entire costs.  The difference will be paid from your settlement or judgment monies.  We will discuss this with you in detail when we give you our initial Costs Agreement and before you instruct us to act on your behalf.
 
How long will a professional negligence claim take?
This is impossible to say without knowing a lot more about you and your claim.  Some relevant factors include:
  • the severity and extent of your loss – it is vital that an accurate assessment of your financial loss can be made before any settlement negotiations commence – in Queensland, any damages you receive will be in full and final settlement of your claim.
  • whether the insurer disputes liability for your claim.
  • the need for expert evidence about how the work should have been performed.
 
Will I need to go to court for a professional negligence claim?
Claims are very rarely decided by a judge.  Even if proceedings are issued in court, professional negligence claims frequently settle before reaching trial.
 
How am I charged and how much do I have to pay to make a professional negligence claim?
If we think you have reasonable prospects of success, we will usually agree to act on a speculative basis.  That means we will not charge for our professional fees unless and until your claim is successfully finalised.
 
We do require payment of any costs or outlays (eg. medico-legal reports from a specialist) incurred on your behalf, even if your claim is not successful.  We will not incur significant outlays without first discussing it with you.  An estimate of outlays will be provided in our Costs Agreement. 
 
Our costs will be reasonable – we will discuss them with you in detail before you instruct us to act on your behalf and will enter into a Costs Agreement with you.  We strongly recommend you seek independent legal advice about the Costs Agreement before you sign it.