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The Relationship Has To Be Special If You Need to Hold Someone Accountable for a Screw-Up


Businessmen are typically aware of a breach of contract, how to identify it when it happens, when to seek out a lawyer and what to expect in the lawsuit process.

Negligence? That sounds like a car accident injury case.

Actually, however, negligence is a very heavily litigated area of business law both for Portland business law attorneys and Seattle business lawyers.

Take for example the situation where you go to purchase insurance for your business. You buy a certain policy based on advice from your agent as to how much coverage you need. He provides the agreed upon amount of insurance coverage.

Now assume your business suffers a million dollar loss, but the agent only recommended $250,000 in coverage. He procured the agreed upon amount of coverage, so he didn't breach the contract. He just gave you bad advice.

This is a negligence case, and you can't just automatically recover for someone else's screw up in a business transaction. This is because the law presumes that business folks can look out for their own interests.

The exception to the rule against negligence recovery in business cases in Oregon is known as the special relationship doctrine. If the parties are in what the law characterizes as a special relationship, the party who screwed up can be liable for negligence.

Briefly summarized, a special relationship is one characterized by confidence and trust, and generally one party entrusts the other with the exercise of independent discretion in making choices (typically financial ones) on their behalf.

Sounds squishy, right? That's because it is. We know that lawyers, doctors, landlords, and the like are in special relationships, but beyond that almost nothing is a certainty.

If you or your business has been injured by another's screw up, you're going to need a Portland business lawyer to analyze the facts and law and provide you advice, so you don't multiply the screw up.

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