If you are in a situation in which you’ve turned to an attorney for help, this likely means an event compelled you immediately to seek legal assistance or a circumstance in your life has moved into a dire state. It could be a problem at your workplace, within the family, in your neighborhood, or you were just smashed into by a sloppy driver on the road.
In such a case(s), your lawyer is your lifeline—the one person you feel you can trust. But what if your lawyer proves to be less than trustworthy or has simply made things worse than they were before. You might want to sue for malpractice, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Here are a few facts about suing for legal malpractice.
Substantiating a Legal Malpractice Claim with Evidence isn’t Easy
If your lawyer has made grievous errors in judgment, you might want to sue them for legal malpractice. The problem is that it’s very difficult to prove it was malpractice, which is considered to be a situation in which the attorney didn’t use the same skills and care any other attorney would use in taking care of your issue or under similar conditions. In other words, just because the lawyer didn’t win your case, you can’t accuse him of legal malpractice.
To win a legal malpractice case, you need to prove a few things:
- Your lawyer was duty-bound to act correctly towards you;
- Your lawyer was in breach of that duty, which could mean negligence, making grievous errors, or not performing his duty as he agreed to;
- Your lawyer’s conduct harmed in you some financial way;
- You experienced financial loss as a result of your lawyer’s unbecoming behavior.
So, essentially, to win a legal malpractice case you have to prove that the lawyer made serious mistakes in the handling of your case. Then you have to prove that you would have won the case had the lawyer not made those mistakes. Last, but not least, you have to show that you would have been able to obtain compensation from the accused party.
As a simple example, let’s assume you are involved in a workplace accident that is clearly the result of the company’s negligence. So, you hire a lawyer who doesn’t file your lawsuit within the timeframe allotted and you can’t refile it. You can then sue your attorney for legal malpractice because you can prove duty—the agreement with your lawyer—and breach. You can also supply evidence to prove the company’s liability, showing that you would have won the case. However, to win the case, you also have to show that the company has the funds available to cover any compensation you would have been awarded had you won the lawsuit.
A Poor Job isn’t Always Malpractice
People have all sorts of problems with their attorneys, but a poor job isn’t always grounds for a legal malpractice lawsuit. For example, if your lawyer loses your case because the opposition had more evidence or because of inexperience, this is not considered malpractice.
However, if your case gets thrown out of court because your lawyer didn’t do any work, this could be considered malpractice. The problem will be proving that the lawyer didn’t handle your case properly and that you would have won the case and been able to collect compensation.
If your lawyer recommends you settle for a lower amount than he initially told you your case was worth, it cannot be considered malpractice. He may have simply told you that you could get more money in the beginning to get you to hire him. Your best option, in this case, would be to get a second opinion and third opinion. If they claim you can get more money, consider changing lawyers.
A legal malpractice case isn’t easy to win, but if you truly feel your lawyer has abused your trust and acted incorrectly, your best option is to consult an attorney experienced in malpractice cases. And you may be looking at some right here. The attorneys at Makarem & Associates are experienced in dealing with legal malpractice. Do not hesitate to call us at 323 -312-0299 or email us at: [email protected].