When you reach the point of needing an attorney’s expertise, it usually means that some situation at work, in the neighborhood, with the family, or elsewhere has gotten too complex to resolve on your own. You turn to a lawyer and trust they will help. But what do you do when the lawyer makes things worse instead of better?
While legal malpractice cases can be complex, in some cases filing a malpractice suit against a lawyer who exhibited negligence in your case may be your only recourse. The legal malpractice may be obvious, such as a missed deadline or statute of limitations. Other times, the issue may fall in the “gray” area regarding whether legal malpractice occurred and whether it had a significant impact on the outcome of your case.
To win a malpractice case against an attorney, you must prove four basic things. You must prove that the attorney owed you a duty to act properly, that the attorney breached the duty by making a mistake or not doing what they agreed to do, and that this conduct hurt you legally and or financially.
Common examples of attorney conduct giving rise to a legal malpractice claim include:
- Conflicts of interest (such as suing a former client)
- Failing to add proper parties
- Failing to present defenses
Failing to answer a lawsuit in time
- Submitting an improper charge (jury instruction) without objections
- Mistakes in the lawsuit that cause the case to be dismissed such as having pleading stricken or missing the Statute of Limitations
- Misusing client funds
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Breach of attorney-client privilege
- Bad legal advice
- Malfeasance or dishonesty
Legal malpractice cases are two cases in one. You must prove that your attorney exhibited negligence while handling your case, and if that negligence had not occurred, you would have received a more favorable outcome, settlement, or judgment than you did. Substantial levels of re-litigation of the original case are often necessary in order to be successful in a legal malpractice case. Even when the attorney in your original case made a serious error, a jury may feel you would have lost the case no matter what. Many legal malpractice cases arise from a situation in which the attorney recovered some money for his or her client, but the client believes they would have received more but for the attorney’s negligence.
If you or a family member have been the victim of legal malpractice, you can trust in our years of experience with these difficult cases to help you navigate through this difficult process to a fantastic result.