In terms of professional malfeasance, medical malpractice tends to get the spotlight. However, legal malpractice occurs more often than you might think. There are many scenarios for legal wrongdoing and lawyer negligence. If you find that the actions (or lack of actions) of the attorney you hired adversely affected you, he or she must be held accountable.
It does not matter whether you paid money to the lawyer in question as long as you can prove that an attorney-client relationship existed and that you, as the client, were provided with legal advice or representation.
Grounds for a legal malpractice claim
If you were harmed by legal malpractice, the issue does not have to be related to a lawsuit. The harm done to you may have arisen out of a patent case, business negotiations or contractual discussions. The lawyer may have made an estate planning mistake that caused you financial difficulties, or provided wrong legal advice about a real estate investment or an insurance claim. Other grounds for legal malpractice include conflicts of interest, a missed statute of limitations, failure to follow your instructions or to get your consent, a breach of fiduciary duty, or billing fraud, to name just a few.
Building the case for compensation
In bringing suit against your former lawyer, you will have to prove negligence in the legal representation provided to you, and a causal connection to the harm you suffered. You will also have to describe the (monetary) injury and the extent it affected you.
The attorney you choose to represent you in the legal malpractice case must show that your former lawyer violated the standard of care that was due you and that you suffered economic loss. As part of the lawsuit, your new attorney will show that legal competency and proper attention to code of ethics would have brought about a different outcome so that the harm you suffered would not have occurred.
A statute of limitations may apply in the malpractice case you intend to bring, so do not delay in seeking legal assistance. And of course, make sure that your new legal counsel is a lawyer in good standing who has a proven track record in legal malpractice litigation.
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