How Do I Bring a Malpractice Claim Against a Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”) in Illinois?


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Dealing with the financial fallout from CPA malpractice can be overwhelming and intimidating. This article will review what constitutes CPA malpractice, how to identify it, and how seeking legal assistance from 1818 can help you proceed with the appropriate legal response.

What is a CPA?

The first step in addressing CPA malpractice is understanding the question: What exactly is a CPA? A CPA is an accountant who has passed an exam administered by their state’s Board of Accountancy and is licensed under the State Public Accounting Act.  The role of a CPA can vary depending on the field in which a CPA practices.  Some of the most common fields include:

  • Public Accounting
  • Corporate Accounting
  • Government Accounting
  • Consulting Services

The general role of a CPA is to offer accurate, analytical, and impartial financial advice to companies, individuals, and government organizations.  Thus, the role of a CPA typically entails:

  • Financial Accounting
  • Tax Preparation and Planning
  • Internal and External Auditing
  • Financial Consulting
  • Budget Management and Forecasting
  • Fraud Detection and Prevention

What is CPA Malpractice?

As a board-certified professional, your CPA has a legal duty to handle your financial affairs in a manner consistent with the accounting industry’s standards.  However, If your CPA’s failure to adhere to their profession’s accepted practices substantially harms you or your organization, an experienced 1818 attorney can assist you in pursuing a CPA malpractice claim. 

Common examples of CPA malpractice include:

  • Improper Use of Client Funds
  • Failure to Detect Fraud
  • Errors in Financial Statements
  • Non-Compliance with Financial Regulations
  • Providing Inaccurate or Fraudulent Tax Advice
  • Failure to Promptly Disclose Financially Significant Issues
  • Other Breaches of Fiduciary Duties

What Steps Should I Take if I Suspect CPA Malpractice?

If you suspect that your CPA has acted in a manner consistent with any of the malpractice categories outlined above, you must address these concerns as soon as possible.  In Illinois, the statute of limitations typically bars CPA malpractice claims brought more than two years after the act of malpractice occurred.  Even if you were unaware of your CPA’s malpractice until later, a court may bar you from bringing a malpractice claim outside of two years if it determines that you reasonably should have discovered your CPA’s breach of fiduciary duty within the allotted time frame.

In many cases, Illinois courts may apply the “Continuous Course of Treatment” Doctrine in medical malpractice cases.  This doctrine extends the time that a party has to file a malpractice suit against a physician by stipulating that the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim does not begin until the treatment in question has ceased.  However, in recent years, Illinois courts have clarified that the Continuous Course of Treatment Doctrine does NOT extend to non-medical malpractice cases.  Thus, even if your CPA’s malpractice stretches over a multi-year period with the most recent activity falling within the two-year restriction, an Illinois court may bar you from recovering any damages resulting from your CPA’s malpractice outside the scope of the last two years.  Therefore, it is imperative that you swiftly confront any concerns you may have regarding your CPA’s potential malpractice.

Why Choose 1818 for Your CPA Malpractice Concerns?

Don’t risk running out of time to file your CPA malpractice claim!  At 1818, our attorneys are experienced in bringing CPA malpractice claims and will help you promptly and vigorously prosecute your lawsuit.  If you are unsure whether you have a viable CPA malpractice claim or have any further questions, we invite you to call us at (312) 584-5444 or to fill out our online contact form.

Jordan Matyas - 1818 Founder

Jordan Matyas

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Jordan Matyas is a lawyer, lobbyist, and Founder of 1818 Legal, an Illinois professional licensing defense law firm he created in 2014. With more than 18 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including professional license defense, administrative law, land use and zoning, and state, local, and municipal law.

Jordan received his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois — Chicago School of Law and is a member of the Illinois Bar Association.