Attorneys are not immune from making mistakes in litigating cases in courts of law. Like many other professionals, they can make mistakes that may cause damage to someone under their care or counsel. Legal malpractice by definition refers to negligence or breach by an attorney that causes harm to their client.
Before you can bring a claim to the court for legal malpractice, you must first established that you had a client-attorney relationship with the attorney you are bringing a suit against. You must also establish that they have breached their duty to you as your attorney by causing you harm or financial loss. As with medical professionals with whom you seek services, attorneys are bound by oath to provide their services with skill, diligence, and knowledge of the law.
Negligence can include missing filing deadlines, losing or mishandling evidence and documents, failure to file appeals in a timely manner. Failure to properly analyze or investigate evidence and documents is another reason cited as negligence. Breach of Fiduciary Duty or trust between beneficiary and trustee (client and attorney) can include sharing of privileged, private client information with another party or parties, and misappropriating a client’s money or assets. It can also include settling a case for less than what the case is worth, and improperly withdrawing from their client’s case.
Can I Prove My Attorney Has Been Negligent?
Once you have established the standard of care that was involved in your attorney-client relationship, and that you believe they have been negligent, you must present evidence that the attorney was negligent or breached the attorney-client relationship. Perhaps, they failed to file paperwork or appeals in a timely manner or they failed to apply the law correctly in your case. Evidence must be presented with your claim and in most cases, you are required to have expert witnesses who can corroborate your claim that the attorney violated the standard of care.
You then need to provide evidence that the attorney’s actions caused personal harm or financial loss. If no harm can be established, no evidence presented that shows loss or harm, it is likely that a legal malpractice case will not be successful. Even if the former two criteria have been established, evidence of harm or loss must also be present.
How Common Are Legal Malpractice Lawsuits?
The number one cause of legal malpractice claims involves the attorney failing to know and apply the law. This results when the attorney fails to understand the implications of the facts and where they fail to be aware of the legal principles involved in the case. A June 2018 study revealed that conflict of interest is the latest driving force behind new legal malpractice claims in the United States. Filing a legal malpractice case must be done in a timely manner. If you feel you have been injured through the fault of an attorney, you need a legal malpractice attorney Los Angeles.
What Do I Do If My Attorney Is Negligent?
There is a statute of limitations in filing such cases. In the state of California, the statute of limitations in filing a legal malpractice case is earlier than 1 year after the plaintiff discovers negligence or breach and 4 years after the date the attorney’s negligence or breach caused injury. In order to win a legal malpractice case, a plaintiff must prove the same elements that are involved in any negligence lawsuit: duty, breach of duty, cause, and damage.