What is an Ethics and Professional Responsibility Lawsuit?
People who provide professional services, such as doctors, accountants, and architects, have high standards of personal responsibility and ethics in their work. Because they have more training and education than their clients, they must take great care in the advice and services they provide.
Everyone has a personal responsibility to behave in a reasonable way that limits harm to others. Professionals have stricter, often codified ethical standards. Many have official codes of ethics they must abide by to protect customers, peers, and society at large.
When a professional violates those standards, causing someone harm and monetary damages, they can be sued. An ethics and professional responsibility lawsuit holds a professional accountable and may result in a monetary award for the victim.
When Should I File an Ethics and Professional Responsibility Lawsuit?
An experienced ethics and professional responsibility lawyer is the best person to advise you on when it is appropriate to file a lawsuit. In general, you may be able to sue if a professional violated their ethics or standards, resulting in harm and significant damages to you. Some examples may include:
- A financial planner gave you bad advice, and you lost money as a result of following that advice.
- A lawyer misrepresents you in a case, resulting in a loss and financial damages.
- An architect designed a flawed home you built that later required expensive redesigns and repairs.
- A doctor’s negligent treatment resulted in greater harm and more medical expenses.
Professional ethics cases often overlap with other areas of law, such as contract law, professional malpractice, medical malpractice, and even criminal law.
What Can I Recover in Damages?
The damages to which you may be entitled in an ethics and professional responsibility case vary significantly depending on the situation. You will need to total all the related costs of the negligent ethical breach to determine what to request in a settlement or trial. An experienced lawyer can help you find every penny you are owed.
What Are the Steps in an Ethics and Professional Responsibility Lawsuit?
An ethics and professional responsibility lawsuit is usually a civil lawsuit. It follows a prescribed set of steps with little variation, depending on the situation and jurisdiction.
Your lawyer will take some or all of these steps to help resolve your situation and recover damages for you:
- Request a resolution
Not all ethics violations require a lawsuit, so your lawyer may first communicate with the professional in question. They may be able to resolve the situation to your satisfaction with this one step.
- File a complaint
If you cannot get a resolution without formal legal action, your lawyer will begin a lawsuit with a complaint. This is sent to the court and the defendants to notify them of your allegations.
- Investigation and discovery
The complaint triggers a discovery period, which gives each side time to investigate the situation and build a case. Your lawyer may hold depositions, talk to witnesses, or work with experts at this time.
- Negotiate a settlement
Discovery often leads to settlement negotiations because the defendants see that the evidence is not in their favor, and a trial would be risky.
- Go to trial
If your lawyer cannot negotiate an adequate settlement, you can take the defendants to court. A jury will hear both sides and will determine if the professional is liable for your damages.
The defendants may appeal a decision in your favor, and likewise, you can appeal. Appeals hold up any recovery of damages you may be owed and can take months or years to resolve.
Is There a Timeline for Filing a Lawsuit?
Civil lawsuits have a statute of limitations, a time limit for when you can file a lawsuit against the defendants. The timeline in your case depends on the laws that apply and the jurisdiction. States set their own statutes of limitation for different types of civil lawsuits, ranging from one to a few years.
What Should I Do Next?
Because there is a time limit to suing a professional for an ethics violation, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. If you miss that deadline, you miss your chance to hold the individual accountable and to recover damages.
Find an ethics and professional responsibility lawyer, an attorney who specializes in representing victims in these kinds of cases. They can provide you the best advice and guidance and give you the best chances of a successful case.