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Negligent accountants can be held responsible

You know that you can sue your accountant for an intentional act that leads to a loss on your end. The accountant purposefully defrauded you, breaching the contract that the two of you signed when entering into business together.

However, what if it was an honest mistake? Do you still have any way to seek compensation, even if the accountant didn't mean to breach the contract, or do you just have to accept that mistakes happen?

In many cases, you can still sue for compensation if you suffered financial damages, intentional or not. What you have to show is that the accountant was negligent. Three things are necessary to show, however:

1. It has to be shown that the accountant had a "duty of reasonable care." You expected services with a certain level of professionalism and you had a right to expect them.

2. The accountant breached that duty. This was done because he or she did not use the care and skill typically used by other professionals with the same skills and certifications, in the same situation. In short, it's reasonable to assume that another accountant wouldn't have made that mistake.

3. The breach itself led to the damages. This seems straightforward, but there are cases where damages exist independent of mistakes. They can both exist on their own without this direct link, so that link must be shown to prove that the accountant needs to provide compensation.

If you're thinking about suing over professional negligence or malpractice, be very sure you know exactly what needs to be shown in court, what legal options you have, and how to proceed with the best chance of success in your case.

Source: FindLaw, "Accounting Malpractice: What You Need to Know," accessed Aug. 24, 2017

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