- posted: Dec. 30, 2023
- Professional Malpractice
Legal malpractice is easy to define but often hard to spot as it occurs. In general, it means a lawyer failed to exercise the accepted professional standard of care for the type of matter being handled, and that this failure caused the client harm. The problem is that malpractice may not be suspected by the client until the case ends unsatisfactorily.
If you’re involved in a legal matter, noticing the signs of possible legal malpractice by your attorney can put you in better position of averting a negative result. Here are some red flags you can be on the alert for:
- Foot dragging — If your lawyer seems to be delaying any aspect of your case, it could be a sign of lack of industry or preparedness. Some delays are to be expected, but an unexplained or extended lapse of time could risk missing the statute of limitations, which can cripple your case.
- Missed deadlines — Worse than foot-dragging is failing to serve or file pleadings or other documents on time. The negative results can include court-imposed sanctions or possible case dismissal. You can keep tabs on your lawyer’s compliance with deadlines by demanding to be copied on all pleadings and filings.
- Failure to communicate — This is perhaps the most telltale sign of a lawyer mishandling a case. Failure to advise you of significant events or issues can be detrimental. If your lawyer is not keeping you updated and/or is not returning calls or answering emails, it may signal negligence.
- Failure to obtain consent — Your lawyer must seek your input and approval when it comes to taking actions that could significantly affect your case’s outcome. This is another reason for demanding that you be copied on correspondence and court filings.
- Failure to heed instructions — You entrust your lawyer with overall management of your case, but that does not mean he or she can disregard your wishes. The attorney can advise you that adhering to them might not be beneficial but ultimately must follow your instructions.
- Conflicts of interest —You should be alert to any actions taken by your lawyer that may indicate a lack of loyalty to you. If your lawyer has failed to disclosed a potential conflict, it may constitute malpractice.
- Settlement pressure — Although a negotiated settlement can be beneficial, you should be on guard if your lawyer seems unwilling or unable to fully explain why. Urging you to accept a settlement without full disclosure of risks and alternatives is unethical and may be harmful.
There are many other indicators of legal malpractice, such as your lawyer seeming unprepared in court, unclear about the current state of pertinent law or at a disadvantage while arguing or trying your case. Recognizing these signs and promptly consulting with an experienced professional malpractice attorney can protect your rights.
Hemmer Wessels McMurtry PLLC in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky assists legal malpractice victims in recovering financial compensation. Feel free to call us at 859-344-1188 or contact us online.