How to Tell When a Legal Mistake Becomes Legal Malpractice

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The relationship between an attorney and their client is one of trust. The client must provide the attorney with all of the information they have regarding their claim, and be honest with them through the process.  In return, the client must be able to trust that his or her attorney is acting ethically, competently, and with their best interests in mind. Without that trust, the client cannot be certain that they will get the best outcome possible for their particular case. 

When a client feels that they have not been properly represented, it could be that the attorney has made an error. If the attorney has made an error, then the client may have a legal malpractice case against that attorney. Since most people are not experts in the law or legal ethics and responsibility, it can be hard to tell the difference between when the attorney’s error represents a breach of the ethical duty to act competently or rises to the legal of a civil, legal malpractice claim. An experienced attorney from Henderson Law can help sort through the details, but here are some questions to ask when trying to determine whether your attorney committed an ethics violation legal malpractice. 

Was My Attorney Acting Within the Standard of Care? 

If an attorney breaches their standard of care and that breach of the standard of care causes you damage, then they have been negligent. However, negligence can be hard to discriminate from a mistake, without viable damages. In hindsight, you might think that something was negligent, but if you remember back to the context about the situation, you might think differently. No attorney is expected to be absolutely perfect. However, they are expected to operate competently. Making a mistake by going with a strategy that ends up failing is not necessarily negligence.  However, if the strategy is one that is not reasoned or informed, then it may be actionable negligence.   

Did You Suffer Losses Because Of Your Attorney’s Actions?

The fact is that you cannot sue your attorney if you did not actually sustain any damages. A lawyer may have made an egregious mistake that would normally be considered malpractice. However, if your case was successful anyway, then you cannot file a claim against them. One of the most common types of negligence is the failure to file a claim before the statute of limitations has expired. While this might seem like a slam dunk malpractice case, you would have to prove that you would have, more likely than not, won the case had it been filed timely. This can be a difficult bar to vault. You must also present evidence as to the damages that would have been established, had your case been timely filed.   

Were the Losses Significant Enough To Be Worth A Claim?

Filling a legal claim is expensive. Legal malpractice cases are expensive because you have to essentially prove two cases at once. On one hand, your attorneys will be working on the possible negligence of your previous lawyer and how it affected you. On the other, they also must work on the original case to determine how that negligence manifested itself, including the context in which certain decisions were made and actions were taken. This will involve extra legal expense and the likely need to hire experts to help provide evidence that a lawyer did not mean their standard of care. That means that even if your attorney was negligent, you might have to let it go because the cost to bring the case will not be significant enough in relation to the cost to bring the claim.   

Filing a Legal Malpractice Suit

Navigating the legal system is difficult at the best of times. You need to understand the law, understand deadlines, and be aware of what your options are at all times. That’s why it’s always a good choice to hire an attorney when you are dealing with legal matters. However, if you have been a victim of legal malpractice, the importance of getting professional legal help is magnified. You will be going against a supposedly experienced attorney, so you need experience and knowledge on your side. Henderson Law has legal malpractice experts who can help you get the outcome you deserve from your case. Contact us today or click here to schedule your consultation.