If your lawyer fails you, can you sue them for malpractice? You bet. Legal malpractice is a type of negligence claim that can be brought against attorneys and other legal professionals who fail to provide their clients with reasonable services and advice.
However, legal malpractice suits are not easy to win. Because of this, most lawyers will never even consider letting someone they represent come after them for it, regardless of how poorly they may regard that representation’s performance as a professional duty.
So, what exactly does this mean? It means that if you think you were harmed because of your lawyer’s poor work in some way or another—and especially if you’re sure about it—you should consult a legal malpractice lawyer before filing a lawsuit against the first one.
This blog post will explain everything you need to know before filing a lawsuit against another lawyer.
What Is Legal Malpractice?
Legal malpractice is a type of negligence that occurs when an attorney’s failure to follow the applicable standard of care negatively impacts their client.
To put it simply, legal malpractice can occur any time an attorney fails to uphold the standard of care expected of their profession. For example, an attorney may be guilty of malpractice if they fail to review a police report that’s crucial to a client’s case and that report turns out to have crucial inaccuracies.
Any attorney or law firm that fails to uphold the standard of care expected of their profession may be liable for malpractice. This means that anyone who is an attorney is potentially responsible for malpractice, including your very own legal malpractice lawyer.
Legal malpractice can also occur if an attorney doesn’t follow correct procedure in handling their client’s case. If an attorney fails to file a motion that’s crucial to their client’s case on time, then the client may lose the ability to pursue the case.
Legal malpractice can also occur if an attorney fails to properly communicate with their client. For example, if an attorney fails to inform their client that they need to attend a hearing that is crucial to the case and the client misses the hearing as a result, then that attorney may be liable for malpractice.
Types of Malpractice
There are several types of legal malpractice such as negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and failure to comply with the applicable standard of care. In order to win a lawsuit for malpractice, your legal malpractice lawyer will have to prove that your attorney committed one or more of these types of malpractice.
Let’s take a more detailed look at these malpractices:
Failure to Comply With the Applicable Standard of Care
In order to prove failure to comply with the applicable standard of care, you’ll have to prove that the attorney failed to meet the standard of care that is expected of their profession and that this failure caused financial loss or other damages.
In order to win a legal malpractice case against an attorney, you have to prove that the attorney was negligent. Negligence is the failure to meet a standard of care and the attorney’s failure to meet the applicable standard of care caused financial loss or other damages.
There is no one way to prove negligence, as each case is unique. However, you must show that the attorney’s conduct was unreasonable and that this unreasonable conduct caused financial loss or other damages.
Breach of Fiduciary Duties
A fiduciary is a person who has a legal responsibility to act in the interest of another person. For example, fiduciaries are often found in positions of trust, like trustees, executors, administrators, and guardians.
Breach of fiduciary happens when attorneys fail to meet the fiduciary duty that’s owed to their client and the failure on their part causes financial loss or other damages.
Additionally, fiduciary duties are not only applied to attorneys, but also to other professionals that handle sensitive information, like doctors and psychotherapists.
How Do You Prove Legal Malpractice?
To stand a chance, your legal malpractice lawyer will have to prove three elements: Breach of duty, actual loss, and proximate cause.
First, you’ll have to prove that the attorney you’re suing breached the standard of care by failing to meet the applicable expectations of the profession. Second, you’ll have to prove that your client was negatively impacted by the attorney’s failure to meet the standard of care. Third, you’ll have to prove that the breach of the standard of care caused financial loss or other damages.
If you can prove these three elements, then you’ll win your malpractice lawsuit.
For example, let’s say that your client was injured in a car accident and hired an attorney to represent them in a lawsuit against the insurance company. During the course of the representation, the attorney failed to obtain the police report that was crucial to proving your client’s case and that report contained crucial inaccuracies that negatively impacted your client’s case.
Additionally, the attorney’s failure to obtain the police report caused your client to lose the ability to pursue the case and the attorney’s failure to obtain the report resulted in financial loss for your client.
Timing is Everything: Mind the Statute of Limitations
When suing for legal malpractice, you have to file your lawsuit within a specific period of time, otherwise, your lawsuit will be barred. The specific time period for filing a legal malpractice lawsuit, also known as the statute of limitations, varies by state. Fortunately, you can find this information online.
The Bottom Line
Legal malpractice is a serious issue that can have tremendous financial and emotional implications for clients. If you believe that an attorney committed malpractice, you have the right to bring a lawsuit against the attorney. However, you must be prepared to prove that the attorney was negligent, that their negligence negatively affected your client, and that their negligence caused financial loss or other damages.
Just remember to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, so that you don’t run the risk of being barred from filing your lawsuit.