What is Legal Malpractice?
Legal malpractice includes breach of contract, fiduciary duty, or negligence which causes harm to the client. This generally occurs when a lawyer misses a deadline for filing court documents or a court date which affects the outcome of a case.
Breach of Contract
Breach of fiduciary duty occurs when an attorney acts in their own best interests rather than the best interests of the client. Breach of contract is when the attorney doesn't follow through on a written agreement.
Elements of a Legal Malpractice Case
- An attorney-client relationship is established
- Incompetency to practice law to established standards of diligence, skill, and care
- Incompetency of the attorney results in client injury
- The extent of the attorney's alleged negligence
- Failure resulted in damages
Common Examples of Legal Malpractice
- Failure to contact - the lawyer doesn't return letters, phone calls, or emails
- Bad checks - the attorney's company check to pay a settlement bounces
- Settling without permission - the lawyer settles the case without consulting the client
- Colossal blunders - outrageous mistakes, including irresponsible behavior such as missing court dates
If you believe your attorney has committed malpractice, you should first file a complaint with your State Bar Association. However, be advised that typically egal malpractice cases are uncommon and difficult to prove.
If you feel you have grounds for a legal malpractice case, you should consult a malpractice attorney right away. Your malpractice attorney can help you determine the merits of your case.
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Before making any decisions you need to find out if the lawyers you are considering hiring work on a contingency fee basis or if you will need to pay for their legal services up front.
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