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Legal Malpractice

stressed-lawyerSometimes lawyers make mistakes. If your attorney damages your case, you may consider suing for legal malpractice.

If your lawyer didn’t represent you properly, and you were harmed in the process, your lawyer might be liable to you for your loss. But before you pursue a lawsuit against your attorney, try these alternatives:

  • Discuss fee disputes with your attorney or engage in fee arbitration
  • Report potential ethics violations to your state bar association
  • Hire another lawyer to repair the damage to an ongoing case

If none of these alternatives brings satisfaction, you may want to consider a legal malpractice claim against your attorney. This type of case is difficult to prove, so you’ll want to thoroughly investigate your chances of success before proceeding.

Every case is different, but legal malpractice claims usually fall under three categories:

  • Negligence
  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Breach of contract

Negligence happens when your attorney fails to use the skill and care normally expected of a competent attorney.

Examples of negligence include:

  • Failing to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations time required under law
  • Missing other important deadlines in the case
  • Not properly preparing for trial
  • Not following court orders

Most legal malpractice claims that end up in court are a result of lawyer negligence.

Breach of fiduciary duty usually occurs when your lawyer has a conflict of interest that harms you in some way. Examples of breach of fiduciary duty include:

  • Representing another client to your disadvantage (such as representing another defendant in the same lawsuit)
  • Having financial or social ties or troubles that prevent your lawyer from representing you to your best advantage
  • Improper sexual advances toward you
  • Lying to you about important case information
  • Not telling you about settlement offers
  • Settling your case for less than it was worth without your approval
  • Inappropriately using money belonging to you

Breach of contract cases are brought against lawyers who violate the terms of their specific agreement with their client. Some examples include:

  • Failing to file a foreclosure action for a client after agreeing to do so
  • Failing to research the registration of certain patents as promised
  • Not filing a mechanics’ lien for a client after agreeing to do so

To win a negligence case against a lawyer, you must prove:

  • Your lawyer owed you a duty to competently represent you
  • He or she made a mistake or otherwise breached the duty owed to you
  • Your lawyer’s mistake injured or harmed you in a way that can be measured financially

In order to prove legal malpractice, you must show that:

  • You would have won your underlying case if your lawyer had not been incompetent or made a mistake
  • You would have collected on a judgment on your underlying case after winning the case

The time limit for filing a legal malpractice is short. So contact me right away if you think you might have a case against your attorney.