What is Professional Negligence?
Professional negligence is a claim made against a professional who fails to perform their work in accordance with a certain standard, causing damages to the plaintiff. In Montana, professionals are held to a higher standard of scrutiny due to the reliance the public places on their work.
Who Do We Help in Montana Professional Liability Cases?
At HagEstad Law Group, PLLC, we have extensive experience in defending professionals against professional negligence claims in Montana. Our team of liability & malpractice specialists includes experienced attorneys who have successfully defended the following professionals:
- Registered nurses
- Real Estate Brokers
- Home Inspectors
Montana Professional Negligence Cases: What Must the Plaintiff Prove?
Under a Professional Negligence claim in Montana, the plaintiff must prove that the professional owed him a duty, that the professional failed to live up to that duty, and that the professional’s failure caused damages to the plaintiff. W. Sec. Bank v. Eide Bailly LLP, 2010 MT 291, 22, 359 Mont. 34, 39, 249 P.3d 35, 40.
While this may seem simple enough, expert testimony is generally required to prove the extent of the duty the professional owed to the Plaintiff. May v. ERA Landmark Real Estate of Bozeman, 2000 MT 299, 68, 302 Mont. 326, 343, 15 P.3d 1179, 1188. Failure to establish the professional’s standard of care is often a death knell to the Plaintiff’s claim.
Preparing a Defense to Montana Professional Negligence Claims
As Richard Mayne said, the “devil is in the details.” European Union – The Community of Europe, 1963. The defense must work diligently to ascertain the facts underlying the claim to determine what defenses are available to the Plaintiff. As Montana is merely a “notice-pleading” state, the Plaintiff is not required to show their hand.
This places the burden on the defense to ascertain the facts and assert all reasonable defenses to the Plaintiff’s claim. While the Plaintiff is inevitably required to prove their claims by a preponderance of the evidence, so must all defenses asserted. MCA § 26-1-403.