Find a Legal Malpractice Lawyer

Legal malpractice occurs when a lawyer acts negligently when providing legal advice or representation. Proving that legal malpractice has occurred can be a trying process. In addition to understanding the elements of this process, it is also important to know what constitutes malpractice.

Proving Your Case – The Elements of Legal Malpractice

While the laws vary by state, in order to prove malpractice, a plaintiff must first typically prove the existence of an attorney-client relationship. Without one, the lawyer wouldn't have had any duty to the client, and there would be no basis for a malpractice suit.

A plaintiff must next establish the "standard of care" that was supposed to govern his/her legal representation and demonstrate how the attorney violated that standard of care. Sometimes, this may be explained in a simple sentence such as, “My lawyer stole the money he was supposed to be holding for me in a trust.” In these cases, the violation is easy to detect. However, many times, an expert witness is needed to establish the governing standard of care as well as describe how it was violated.

Assuming those elements are satisfied, the plaintiff must then demonstrate that he/she suffered an injury as an immediate result of the lawyer's negligence. In order to make it past this stage of the case, the injury suffered must be deemed a reasonably foreseeable effect of the lawyer's misconduct.

Finally, in order to avoid a dismissal of the case, the plaintiff must be able to prove the extent of the damages suffered as a result of the alleged malpractice, including the nature and amount of these damages.

When to Hire a Malpractice Lawyer

Many people are reluctant to pursue malpractice lawsuits because they are unsure of the facts. What exactly constitutes legal malpractice? Do you have a case?

Possible Cases of Legal Malpractice:
  1. Your attorney has failed to file a complaint on time

  2. Mishandling of funds

  3. Your attorney has agreed to a settlement against your express directions

When the Law Is Not On Your Side:

1. The Attorney Judgment Rule

According to this rule, attorneys are not liable for what, in hindsight, were bad choices in judgment, as long as those judgments were made in accordance with the law and the client's best interests. This rule is basically designed to protect lawyers who act in good faith while keeping the client informed, even if they do make what turn out to be strategic errors in handling the case.

2. Changes In The Law

It is generally not possible to attain a malpractice verdict against a lawyer whose advice or representation proves faulty because of a court decision or new legislation passed after that lawyer advised or represented his client. In other words, though a good lawyer will advise his client about possible changes in the law, lawyers may not be charged with being unable to predict the future.

By Lindsay Rech           

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