New York has different types of lawyers that handle various cases. There are lawyers that handle several types of cases whereas others specialize in one or a few. As a client, it is always important to choose the right lawyer to represent you.What is OPD?
OPD is the Office of Professional Discipline within the Department of Education. It was formed to primarily safeguard the public from professional negligence. The office is responsible for investigating and prosecuting cases of professional malpractice in different fields.
In case you find you are accused because of professional negligence, the thing is to ensure that you have an OPD defense lawyer to represent you. Trying to defend yourself or hiring someone who is not experienced in professional negligence law will only deem your chances of winning the case.
OPD lawyers in New York usually represent healthcare workers in the following categories:
• Physical therapists
• Occupational therapists
• Lab clinicians
• Mental health practitioners
Besides that, OPD lawyers also represent teachers, accountants, architects among others.
What you need to know about the New York OPD process
The Office of Professional Discipline just like in many other states aims at shielding the public from professional negligence. The office which is under the Department of education is mandated to investigate and prosecute all cases relating to professional negligence.
Professional misconduct or negligence is termed by the law as practicing contrary to the terms set by a particular profession. Below are the most common types of professional misconduct:
• Being convicted of any criminal activity
• Operating beyond one’s designated scope of practice
• Failing to keep proper records
• Fraudulent practice
• Negligence or incompetence in one or more instances
• Practicing without a license
• Practicing while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
• Allowing another person to practice without a license
• Sharing of unauthorized documents
How professional negligence cases are conducted
The Office of Professional Discipline has several offices across the state. When a complaint is raised in the main office, it is usually referred to local offices located in different parts of the state. The office receives more than 10,000 cases yearly.
OPD has investigators who take up the mater once it reaches the office. It is also required to inform the person being investigated through an official letter or email about the case and can demand an interview or documents from the accused.
It is upon the investigators from the OPD to investigate the matter and decide whether to close the case or escalate move it further for prosecution. In case the prosecution fails to find adequate evidence on alleged negligence, the case will definitely be closed. However, if the investigators are able to get watertight evidence, the case will proceed to prosecution.
One member from the professional body together with the prosecuting attorney will be the once to decide whether to move on with the case or not. At this point, the accused person has two options that he or she can take.
The first option is to proceed to a full hearing and defend themselves against the accusations. The second one is to come into terms with the state and accept responsibility for the professional negligence which is similar to a plea bargain in a normal trial.
Deciding on which option to take might not be easy. It’s only an experienced OPD attorney that will be able to assess the situation and make an informed decision.
Potential penalties for professional misconduct
The most severe penalty one can get from professional misconduct is a revocation of their license. This might include conviction of serious crimes such as gross negligence or incompetence, sexual abuse and other serious crimes.
What should you do when being investigated by the OPD?
It is always recommended to hire an OPD lawyer immediately you receive a notification from the investigating officer. The person you choose to handle your case will play a crucial in determining the outcome of the whole case.
Ensure that you choose a lawyer who has enough experience with regard to professional negligence cases. Besides that, it is not enough just to check on their website – ensure that you call and arrange for a physical meeting to understand them better.