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What Are Medical Standards of Care?

Published on Mar 26, 2019 at 5:45 pm in Legal Malpractice.

Doctors and other medical professionals are legally required to give reasonable care and not cause any harm to the patient. They have a duty to follow certain steps to determine what’s wrong with a patient and find the cause of their illness or injury. From that point forward, they have protocols and procedures to follow which inform them of the best way to treat their patient. Before proceeding with any treatment plan, they need to explain all the steps to their patient along the way.

Following these guidelines keeps patients safe and informed of what’s happening to them. All of these steps, guidelines, and protocols are part of a broad set of legal standards referred to as “standards of care”. Medical standards of care are typically-accepted guidelines that professionals in the medical field all strive to operate by. When professionals don’t operate by accepted standards of care and a patient is hurt or suffers as a direct result, that patient may be legally entitled to sue for malpractice.

What are my options after experiencing legal malpractice?

Published on Jun 4, 2018 at 2:40 pm in Legal Malpractice.

Whether faced with the wrongdoing of another, a criminal charge or a serious injury, heading to court is a nerve-wracking experience. Most people in Maryland do not take on this experience alone. Obtaining the guidance of an experienced lawyer is often your best option for achieving the best possible outcome for your unique situation, but what if someone drops the ball? In the face of legal malpractice, you might feel understandably lost.

Did your lawyer commit a breach of fiduciary duty?

Published on Jul 17, 2017 at 10:10 pm in Legal Malpractice.

When you engage the services of any attorney, he or she is required — from a moral as well as a legal standpoint — to act in your best interests. This is known as a fiduciary duty.

If you come to believe that your lawyer committed a breach of fiduciary duty, this might constitute professional malpractice. A reasonable next step would be for you to discuss your misgivings with a different attorney who is experienced in handling legal malpractice cases.

What is a breach of fiduciary duty?

A malpractice lawsuit for breach of fiduciary duty must establish (a) a specific duty that was owed, (b) a failure to live up to that obligation, and (c) tangible damages that were suffered as a result. If an attorney was rude or deceitful, but won your case, it would not be compensable. But if the attorney failed to pursue your case because of an undisclosed conflict of interest, you might have grounds for monetary damages.

What do the rules of professional conduct have to say about competence? – II

Published on Jun 15, 2017 at 9:58 pm in Legal Malpractice.

Back in May, our blog spent some time discussing how the very first decree in the Maryland Attorneys’ Rules of Professional Conduct dictates that all attorneys must provide clients with competent representation, meaning services demonstrating a reasonably necessary degree of “legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation.”

We also discussed how even though this may seem simple enough, it’s a far more complex matter, with multiple factors needing to be accounted for when considering an individual attorney’s legal knowledge and skill. We’ll continue this important discussion in today’s post.

What do the rules of professional conduct have to say about competence?

Published on May 12, 2017 at 9:49 pm in Legal Malpractice.

When a person makes the decision to retain the services of an attorney to handle a particular issue — from an estate plan or employment agreement to a divorce or a DWI — they understandably assume — and rightly expect — a certain level of competence.

Indeed, the very first decree in the Maryland Attorneys’ Rules of Professional Conduct addresses this very issue, dictating that an attorney must provide “competent representation” to a client. Indeed, the rule goes on to declare that the foundation of such representation is “legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary.”

Prominent Baltimore Attorney Disbarred Over $1,000 Check

Published on Jun 23, 2009 at 1:34 pm in Legal Malpractice.

Last week, the Court of Appeals of Maryland disbarred Michael U. Gisriel, a well known real estate lawyer who hosted a talk show, and was a past member of the Maryland House of Delegates. This was considered “breaking news” by the Daily Record, Maryland’s legal newspaper. The facts of the case are interesting for several reasons and can be read at the Maryland Judiciary website.

Mr. Gisriel has been retained by clients to resolve a real estate dispute. During the course of the representation, he filed court papers that were later deemed frivolous and the trial court imposed sanctions upon Mr. Gisreal and his client of more than $3,000, which Mr. Gisriel paid to opposing counsel. He was later discharged by the clients, who continued part of their case without an attorney. They ultimately resolved their case at a mediation session where it was agreed they would be paid certain monies being held in escrow by the court.

A $1,000 check was sent by the court trustee to Mr. Gisriel who, without authority, signed the clients’ names to the check and deposited it into his general account. He assumed the payment was in partial reimbursement of the fees he paid on his own behalf and on behalf of the clients as sanctions to opposing counsel. The clients were waiting for their $1,000. When they learned that Mr. Gisriel had signed their names and cashed the check, they reported him to the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission who sought and obtained disbarment.

Mr. Gisriel had claimed that he honestly believed the check was his to cash and that he didn’t give it more than “five seconds” of thought between receiving the check and endorsing it. The Court found he intentionally misappropriated the funds and that his lack of thought was indicative of deceit and not helpful to his defense.

This case is very unfortunate, Many, including two of the seven judges on the Court of Appeals (Bell and Eldrige (retired), believed the decision was too harsh. The two judges, in a dissenting opinion, indicated they would have indefinitely suspended and not disbarred Gisriel based on his good standing and lack of discipinary problems during his more than 30 years in practice. What is also interesting is that the clients who reported Mr. Gisriel wished to withdraw their grievance and signed an affidavit that the matter had been resolved to their satisfaction and that they didn’t want to bring harm to Mr. Gisriel’s legal career. Those pleas obviously fell upon deaf ears at the Grievance Commission who has the right to do what it wishes notwithstanding what the reporting party wishes.

The bottom line is that an attorney may never sign a client’s name to a check or legal document without their express authority. That is basic law with a little common sense mixed in. This action was viewed as theft, as it very well might have been, and is just another example of how some will risk their careers over very small amounts of money.

At Belsky, Weinberg and Horowitz, we request that clients endorse a limited power of attorney whenever there is a need to sign on behalf of clients. There are more extensive powers of attorneys that can be used in other circumstances. We would be happy to discuss free-of-charge our process for preparing powers of attorney.

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