How To Know If You’ve Experienced Legal Malpractice
Lawyers are expected to perform the highest standard of care when it comes to legal profession. However, they can still fail in performing the duties expected of them by their clients. If you think you’ve experienced legal misconduct, you have the legal right to file a lawsuit against the attorney at fault. But, it can be quite challenging to determine mistakes or errors as malpractice. Here’s what you need to know when legal malpractice has been committed.
How does an attorney commit malpractice?
Remember that merely losing in the case doesn’t constitute legal malpractice. A lawyer must have acted negligently or intentionally violated the prescribed standards and codes of ethical and professional conduct to warrant the presumption that they’re guilty of malpractice.
Here are some ways in which your attorney can commit legal malpractice:
- Your lawyer failed to disclose that they have a conflict of interest over your case.
- Your lawyer agreed to a settlement without your consent.
- Your lawyer was unable to communicate with you regarding the matter and intentionally ignored your calls and emails.
- Your lawyer neglected to file essential documents to protect your interests.
- Your lawyer misused your retainer funds.
While circumstances of a legal malpractice case vary from person to person, knowing some possible ways on how your attorney can violate their legal responsibilities is also essential.
What are the causes of action to consider in a legal malpractice lawsuit?
Keep in mind that proving legal malpractice isn’t an easy task. For instance, there must be a cause of action before saying that your lawyer is guilty of unprofessional conduct. Below are the elements you need to prove in a legal malpractice claim lawsuit:
In most cases, claims arising from legal malpractice are based on negligence. Your lawyer can be held liable for negligence when they don’t provide you with the service you expect from them. In other words, they fall short to live up to their duty of fulfilling their legal responsibilities. An example of this is when your lawyer neglected to meet deadlines, disregarded court orders, and even went to the trial unrehearsed.
- Breach of Trust
In the legal profession, attorneys have a fiduciary relationship with their clients. It means that they have a fiduciary duty to you to act on behalf of their interests. Once the lawyer accepted you as their client, they are in fact, obligated to take actions and provide appropriate legal advice as much as possible. A breach of duty includes disclosing confidential information, mishandling of funds, and concealing a conflict of interest.
What evidence do you need to win a legal malpractice lawsuit?
When you’re bringing a legal action in court, submission of evidence is a primary consideration. Like other types of lawsuits, your legal malpractice claim to be successful should be supported by pieces of evidence.
Here’s what you need to succeed in a legal malpractice lawsuit:
- Proof that your lawyer had provided legal representation in your case
Winning a malpractice case against your lawyer can be much easier when you can present evidence that they had the duty to represent you legally. It can be shown through a contract that you’ve signed with the attorney.
- Proof that your lawyer had breached the duty of care
Evidence confirming a breach of a standard of care on the part of your lawyer can factor into your chances of succeeding in a malpractice lawsuit. If you think your lawyer is guilty of such breach, it’s best to consult an experienced malpractice attorney to help you determine whether you have a valid claim against the former.
- Proof that the breach had caused damage to you
Aside from establishing that your attorney has breached the duty of care, you should still be able to prove that said breach had caused harm to you. That way, you’ll be able to come up with a stable and robust case against your former lawyer. In almost all cases, the determination of this element can be established on a case-to-case basis.
What to do before filing a legal malpractice lawsuit claim?
While filing a legal malpractice case can be a bit tricky, you should still need to gather as much information as you can. In other words, you should be able to collect pieces of evidence arising from the case so that you can be able to support your claim in court and in turn, you’ll get the compensation you deserve.
Thinking about suing your former attorney for an alleged act of legal malpractice can sometimes be challenging. However, it’s still best to remember that in any way, your attorney has an ethical, moral and legal duty to provide the legal representation you most likely expect from them. If you believe that your previous lawyer is guilty of malpractice, it’s recommended that you contact a malpractice attorney who has the experience in handling these types of lawsuits.
In the future, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust lawyers entirely, of course. If you plan on filing a case against someone over something, say for instance a car accident, then perhaps lawyers here could help. It may perhaps help that before you hire a lawyer to tackle a task, such as the accident as said here, it may be helpful to screen your potential lawyer first in order to avoid risks of malpractice.
Timothy is a budding law writer who enjoys all aspect of the law industry. He’s currently studying to become a lawyer and is applying his law knowledge into what he writes about. He spends time with his friends and swimming in his spare time.