Common Types of Legal Malpractice
Whether you hire a lawyer to represent you in a personal injury case, to help you through your divorce or to settle a contract dispute, you expect them to look out for your best interests and represent you to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Some lawyers inappropriately handle cases, causing their clients harm. Thankfully, the law aims to protect clients from certain attorney behaviors known as legal malpractice.
If you believe that a lawyer you hired may have acted negligently and caused you and/or your case harm as a result, please consider scheduling a consultation with the Law Offices of Eric H. Luckman, P.A. Meeting with an experienced Delray Beach, Florida legal malpractice lawyer will allow you to make an informed decision about your situation. And should you decide to pursue a legal claim against your former attorney, our team can help.
What exactly does legal malpractice look like? This kind of professional negligence can take many forms. Here are just a few:
Failure to File Paperwork on Time
Failure to file legal documents on time is one of the most common causes of legal malpractice. No matter what type of legal case they are dealing with, lawyers are responsible for filling out and filing paperwork by the deadline given by the courts. If they don’t do that, the case could get dismissed or be negatively impacted in other ways.
Failure to Know the Law
The legal field is a complicated one and is updated frequently. It’s up to a lawyer to know the law from top to bottom and stay up-to-date on all the changes. If a lawyer fails to do all of that, it can severely impact your case. For example, if you were charged with a crime and lawyer and they didn’t realize that the evidence against you was collected in an illegal manner, you may have a valid legal malpractice claim. An experienced Delray Beach, FL legal malpractice lawyer can help to clarify whether your former attorney negligently failed to “know the law.” It can be difficult for non-lawyers to know whether an attorney failed to meet this legal standard or not. But an experienced legal malpractice attorney can generally make this kind of determination with relative ease. It is partially for this reason that you should consider contacting a Delray Beach, FL legal malpractice lawyer, even if you are unsure if you have been the victim of legal malpractice. Speaking with a professional can provide necessary answers and legal guidance based on your unique situation.
Failure to Obtain Consent
It’s a lawyer’s responsibility to frequently communicate with their clients and obtain their consent before pursuing any legal action. For instance, if you have a personal injury case and the defendant’s insurance company makes a settlement offer, your lawyer must ask for your consent before accepting the offer. If your lawyer fails to do this, you have grounds to take action against your former attorney.
Ignoring the Client
Lawyers are busy people, so it’s understandable if it sometimes take them a day or two to return phone calls. However, if your lawyer has failed to communicate with you for extended periods of time and doesn’t have a valid excuse for it, grounds for a legal malpractice case may arise.
Breach of Contract
A breach of contract occurs when a lawyer goes against one of the terms in the contract the client signs. A contract between a lawyer and client can include everything from settlement agreement terms to fee agreements and must be followed. If a lawyer, for example, tries to charge you higher fees than originally stated in the contract, you may have grounds for a legal malpractice case. An experienced Delray Beach, FL legal malpractice lawyer can help you determine whether your former attorney breached contractual terms in his or her relationship with you.
Proving Legal Malpractice
In order to have a successful legal malpractice claim, you must prove that the lawyer owed you a duty to give you competent representation, breached the duty by acting negligently, the breach of duty caused you harm and the harm caused you financial harm. Proving all of this is no easy task. That’s why it is likely in your best interest to work with an experienced Delray Beach, FL legal malpractice lawyer.
Am I a Victim of Legal Malpractice?
Most people tend to trust the legal and medical professionals they hire to represent them, as a legal malpractice lawyer Delray Beach FL trusts knows very well. It is hard to conceive that the lawyer you hired and spent countless hours and dollars on a case of considerable importance to your life did not follow the expected protocols. The case was settled for an amount considerably less than what another lawyer could have gotten. Your lawyer failed to return phone calls or missed deadlines. Because of their actions or inactions, you suffered damages and now it is necessary to file a lawsuit against the attorney you thought was representing your best interests. Where do you even start?
There are certain elements necessary to prove that you are a victim of legal malpractice, as a legal malpractice lawyer Delray Beach FL relies on can explain:
- The attorney you hired had a duty to you. It is easy to prove your attorney did not do what was stated in the contract.
- Breach of duty is more difficult to prove. You will likely have to hire an expert witness to decide whether or not your attorney was negligent in their duty to you. The lawyer should possess the knowledge and skills necessary to properly represent you.
- Any monetary losses experienced because of the neglect of your attorney will have to be proven by providing records of money you had to spend on your case, lost wages, travel expenses, etc. This is often difficult to prove.
- The monetary damages have to be a proven result of the attorney’s negligence.
One last requirement that is difficult to prove is that if your new attorney were to retry the case and win, does the defendant have the financial ability to pay damages — both initially and if you were to retry the case?
Know the statute of limitations in your state for filing legal malpractice with a legal malpractice lawyer Delray Beach FL residents turn to. As soon as you suspect your attorney has not represented you fairly, start compiling your own evidence of negligence. Contact an attorney experienced in legal malpractice. Law Offices of Eric H. Luckman, P.A. is available to meet with you to discuss your situation and advise you of a plan of action. Gather any and all paperwork you have accumulated with your previous attorney. You will be asked for the following:
- As stated above, any and all evidence from the original case. Include anything that may indicate your attorney perform as well as you expected. Perhaps they did not present all evidence that would have proved to benefit your case. Your new attorney will need all this information if they move forward to retrying the case.
- Records you may have that prove your attorney neglected to return your phone calls or emails. Also, provide the new attorney with any phone, email and mail documents and records between you and your previous attorney.
- Someone who can represent you as an expert witness is important if your case goes to a jury, as a legal malpractice lawyer Delray Beach FL counts on can attest. This expert needs to be able to explain to the jury how your first attorney failed to perform for you.
Time is of the essence when you believe you did not receive the representation you deserved from the lawyer you hired to act on your behalf. Contact Law Offices of Eric H. Luckman, P.A. to discuss your case with an experienced legal malpractice lawyer Delray Beach FL trusts and get the representation you deserved in the first place.