It is possible at times for clients to be dissatisfied with the outcome of their case or the way their attorney handled it throughout. But you may not always have grounds for a legal malpractice lawsuit even if you are unhappy with how things have gone with your case. You need to determine when your attorney has actually breached a duty of care in order to sue them.
Here are some of the lapses on part of an attorney that could qualify as a breach of duty of care, depending on the circumstances.
Your attorney has a legal duty to know the deadlines applicable to your case, such as until when you can file a lawsuit (statute of limitations), or other key dates related to the case. If the attorney has ignored or missed crucial deadlines, and fails to fix the error, it could be a breach of duty.
Failure to Seek Permission in Critical Matters
Your attorney would generally have plenty of flexibility to handle everyday issues related to your case without obtaining your explicit permission. But in certain areas, they need to have your consent before taking action. For instance, before they agree on a settlement amount with the defendant on your behalf, they need to have your permission. Failure to do so would be a breach of duty.
Ignorance of the Relevant Laws
Your attorney is expected to have knowledge of the state and federal laws that may be applicable or relevant to your case. If another reasonable practicing lawyer would have knowledge of the law in a similar case, your attorney should too. For example, in a case of employment discrimination, your attorney is expected to know that prior to filing a federal lawsuit, a claim with the EEOC or another state agency must be filed. These kinds of lapses could qualify as a breach of duty.
Failure to Collect Reasonable Evidence
When relevant pieces of evidence in your case are reasonably accessible, your attorney is expected to gather them to strengthen the case. For instance, if you have been injured in a car accident, your attorney should speak to any eyewitnesses that may corroborate your claim of how the accident occurred. You may be able to sue your attorney for these types of critical acts of omission that hurt your case.
Suing Your Attorney for a Breach of Contract
While legal malpractice lawsuits are primarily based on breach of duty, you may also be able to file this lawsuit if your attorney has breached a promise specifically mentioned in your retainer agreement. Apart from a negligence claim, you could have a claim for a breach of contract if the attorney has failed to fulfill a condition specified in the contract.
Call an Experienced Legal Malpractice Lawyer in California
Makarem & Associates in California is a premier law firm for legal malpractice cases. If you believe your current or previous attorney has failed to act responsibly on your case, the experienced legal malpractice attorneys at Makarem & Associates can help to protect your rights. Call 310-312-0299 or email at [email protected] to schedule an appointment.