- posted: Jul. 30, 2023
- Professional Malpractice
You expect your lawyer to represent you effectively and to work hard to achieve the results you want. However, the fact that the lawyer fell short of your expectations doesn’t automatically mean you can sue for legal malpractice. Also known as professional negligence, malpractice is limited to situations where an attorney does not act according to the accepted standard of professional care. The lawyer might do something that a reasonably competent lawyer would not have done in a similar case or, conversely, might fail to do something that should have been done. In addition, the act or failure to act must have harmed the client in some way.
The following are some of the most common examples of legal malpractice:
- Commingling funds — This means the attorney or law firm failed to keep client funds in accounts separate from business accounts.
- Lack of experience or training — Lawyers cannot know everything about every area of law, so they are obligated to take only those cases they are competent to handle. A corporate lawyer who has no experience in family law could make critical mistakes in a divorce case.
- Missing deadlines — Attorneys are expected to adhere to all deadlines imposed by law and by courts or other tribunals. Among the most critical deadlines are statutes of limitations that set time limits on certain claims.
- Not knowing the facts or applicable law — Lawyers must take the time to learn the facts and laws applicable to each case in order to represent the client’s interests thoroughly and effectively.
- Fraud or misrepresentation —Lawyers must disclose to clients all material information about their cases and do so truthfully. Lawyers also have a duty of candor and honesty to courts and tribunals, as well as to other parties and lawyers.
- Failure to communicate — Lawyers have a duty to keep clients informed of what is happening in their cases so the clients can participate in making informed decisions.
- Improvident acceptance or rejection of settlements — Lawyer should not accept settlement offers that are not in their clients’ best interests, nor should they reject settlements that might be beneficial. Failure to discuss settlements with clients can also constitute malpractice.
Legal malpractice claims can be challenging to win. You have to prove that you would have achieved a benefit if your attorney had adhered to the proper standard of professional care. This is known as a “case within a case,” since it means presenting evidence sufficient to support a favorable outcome in the underlying matter. The lawyer you retain for your legal malpractice claim should also have familiarity with the area of law involved in the original case.
At Hemmer DeFrank Wessels, PLLC in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, we are available to help clients whose previous attorneys failed to live up to expected standards. To discuss your potential legal malpractice claim, call us at 859-344-1188 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.