Our firm provides legal representation for professionals facing civil litigation, disciplinary action, and ethics investigations throughout South Carolina. Contact us to discuss your situation in confidence.
As a licensed professional, facing civil liability or disciplinary action as the result of allegations of negligence or ethics violations can be a trying experience. You could be facing the risk of a substantial judgment. And depending upon the severity of the allegations, your professional reputation – and the future of your career – could be hanging in the balance. You must take your situation extremely seriously, and you need to start strategizing right away.
At Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC, we provide experienced and effective legal representation for licensed professionals in South Carolina. We represent accountants, architects, attorneys, and real estate agents/brokers throughout the state We handle litigation, ethics investigations, and disciplinary proceedings before all state courts and licensing boards. If your nest egg, your license, or your career is at stake; you can count on the attorneys at Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC to defend you.
About Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC
Our firm is committed to fighting for individuals and businesses that are at risk of losing everything due to allegations of negligence or wrongdoing. We have extensive experience in civil litigation, alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and administrative matters. We maintain a strategically-structured practice that allows us to provide efficient and cost-effective legal representation for all matters involving potential professional liability. Our goal in every case is to secure a favorable resolution as quickly and quietly as possible – so we work closely with our clients to understand exactly what happened (or what didn’t happen) and build highly-customized legal strategies.
In our professional negligence practice, we focus not only on the potential outcomes, but also on the potential effects of simply facing allegations of professional negligence or unethical conduct. We take a comprehensive approach with an immediate and aggressive response and continual re-assessment of the legal and practical circumstances as matters progress. If a settlement is your best option, we will strike while the opportunity is available. If we need to take your case to court or defend your right to practice before a state licensing board, we will take the steps needed to ensure the best possible outcome.
Experienced Legal Representation for Licensed Professionals in South Carolina
Our attorneys represent licensed professionals in South Carolina in all civil, administrative, and licensing matters. We have years of experience securing favorable outcomes for our clients in a variety of areas.
Professional Negligence Litigation
Allegations of professional negligence can lead to personal liability, and they can also trigger administrative proceedings involving state licensing authorities. Even if you have professional liability (or errors and omissions) insurance, it is critical that you dispute the allegations against you in order to protect your professional reputation. Our skilled litigation team will explore all avenues to defend your exercise of professional judgment, and we will work efficiently to resolve your dispute as favorably as possible.
Professional Disciplinary Proceedings
Whether you are at risk for a public reprimand or potential license suspension or revocation, we can seek to resolve the matter favorably and with minimal disruption of your day-to-day practice. Since facing any manner of sanctions can put you at risk for greater discipline in future licensing proceedings, it is critical that you mount the strongest possible defense. We represent licensed professionals throughout South Carolina in disciplinary proceedings involving:
- South Carolina Board of Accountancy
- South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners
- South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation
- South Carolina Real Estate Commission
- South Carolina State Bar Association
- South Carolina State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors
Professional Ethics Investigations
If you or your firm is being targeted in a professional ethics investigation, intervening in the investigation is the best way to avoid unwarranted consequences. You are entitled to defend yourself during the investigative process; and in many cases, staving off formal proceedings is simply a matter of explanation. Under various circumstances, legitimate practices can appear improper to outside observers. Setting the record straight quickly can prevent any risk of an unfavorable outcome at a disciplinary hearing.
Answers to FAQs: Professional Negligence and License Defense in South Carolina
Q: What are some of the most-common allegations in professional negligence and ethics complaints against attorneys, accountants, and other professionals?
While the types of allegations against licensed professionals are often dependent upon the specific nature of profession in question, many of the most-common allegations against service providers can be lumped into general categories. For example, common complaints against attorneys and accountants include:
- Lack of client communication (or ineffective methods of communication)
- Failure to know or appropriately apply relevant legal or accounting principles
- Inadequate investigation or research
- Failure to meet deadlines
- Overbilling and billing for services not rendered
Q: What are some potential defenses to professional negligence allegations in civil lawsuits?
Once again, the specifics are highly-dependent upon the specific profession and allegations involved. In broad terms, however, the most fundamental defense to allegations of negligence is to challenge one or more individual elements of the plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff must prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence; so if the plaintiff’s evidence on even a single element is lacking, then a finding of professional liability is not appropriate. The basic elements of a claim for professional negligence are:
- Duty – Did you owe a duty of care to the plaintiff? If so, how did that duty apply (if at all) to the service or transaction in question?
- Breach – Did you fall short of meeting the applicable standard of care in your profession?
- Causation – If you breached your duty of care, was your breach actually the cause of any harm to the plaintiff? Or, were intervening or extraneous factors involved?
- Harm – What harm, if any, did the plaintiff suffer as a result of your alleged negligence? If your breach (if any) was harmless, no damages should be awarded.
Q: What are the potential outcomes of a professional disciplinary action in South Carolina?
Each professional licensing board establishes its own standards and sanctions for ethics violations. If you have received an inquiry or notice of complaint, it will be critical to quickly establish the parameters of your case. Generally speaking, however, the potential outcomes in a professional disciplinary action range from no adverse action all the way to permanent license revocation.
Q: Where can I find out about the ethical standards that apply to my profession?
If you have questions about your ethical obligations as a licensed professional in South Carolina, our attorneys can advise you regarding the relevant rules and laws. You can find the applicable legal authorities online; however, without a clear understanding of how they apply to the unique circumstances of your particular issue, it may be difficult to determine the practical implications for your practice.
- S.C. Code of Laws Title 40 Chapter 3 – Professions and Occupations
- SC Code of Regulations, Chapter 10 – LLR Fees
- SC Code of Regulations, Chapter 11 – Architectural Examiners
- S.C. Code of Laws Title 40 Chapter 2 – Accountants
- S.C. Code of Regulations Board of Accountancy
- S.C. Code of Laws Title 40 Chapter 1 Professions and Occupations
Q: How long do I have to respond to a civil complaint for professional negligence in South Carolina state court?
In South Carolina state court, you have 30 days from the date of service to file an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint. However, due to the amount of work involved in investigating allegations of professional negligence and preparing a substantive response, it is critical that you engage defense counsel as soon as possible. At Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC, we routinely represent licensed professionals in civil litigation, and we can prepare an appropriate and strategic response that preserves all available defenses.
Why South Carolina Professionals Trust Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC
1. Our Experience
Our attorneys bring decades of combined experience to representing licensed professionals in civil litigation and licensing matters.
2. Our Focus
Our practice is focused exclusively on civil litigation, ADR, and professional license defense. We also have significant experience in insurance coverage disputes; and if necessary, we can assist you in seeking coverage from your professional liability insurer.
3. Our Peer Ratings
Our firm is Peer Rated on Martindale-Hubbell® for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. In 2018, we received recognition from Best Lawyers, which is a publication of U.S. News & World Report.
Contact Us for a Confidential Initial Consultation
If you need to speak with a professional negligence or license defense attorney, please contact us to arrange a confidential initial consultation. You can reach our Columbia office at (866) 207-6209 and our Charleston office at (877) 216-6970, or you can send an email directly to one of our attorneys.