Are You A Victim Of Legal Malpractice?
Attorney misconduct could have a major impact on the outcome of your case. Each attorney owes his or her client a fiduciary duty. Most legal malpractice cases are based on a violation of this breach of fiduciary duty, professional negligence, or fee disputes. Suing your attorney for malpractice is a legal means of being compensated for your losses.
Determining Whether You Were a Victim of Legal Malpractice
Lawsuits against an attorney for legal malpractice usually falls into three major categories: (1) negligence, (2) breach of fiduciary duty, and/or (3) breach of contract.
Negligence is the most common grounds for suing an attorney. A lawyer is negligent if he or she mishandles a case. To prove that your lawyer was negligent, you will need to prove: (a) there was an attorney-client relationship, (b) a breach of a duty owed to you as the client, (c) causation, and (d) damages or financial loss.
A written contract or agreement usually establishes the attorney-client relationship. However, a written contract or agreement is not necessary. The relationship can be created whenever an attorney gives you legal advice or assistance – even a consultation.
Negligence requires breach of the duty owed to the client. In performing legal services, an attorney must exercise the care, skill, and diligence that are commonly exercised by other attorneys in similar conditions and circumstances. Failure to do so is a breach.
Causation requires proving that if the attorney had not been negligent or otherwise acted wrongfully, you would have been successful in the underlying case. It can be challenging to prove that the outcome of a legal proceeding would have been different if your attorney had acted differently. However, it is possible.
Finally, you must prove that you suffered a damage, loss or injury. If you are unable to show such results, almost no judge would favor you.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Every attorney owes a fiduciary duty to their client. These fiduciary duties include:
- Duty of confidentiality
- Duty of care
- Duty of competence
- Duty of loyalty
- Duty to communicate with their client
- Duty to safe keep client property
- Duty not to commingle funds
- Duty not to charge excessive fees
An attorney who violates a fiduciary duty is susceptible to a legal malpractice claim.
Breach of Contract
An attorney can be liable for legal malpractice if they breach or violate a specific term of the attorney-client agreement. A failure to perform as per the terms of the contract is grounds to seek legal remedy against your attorney. It is critical for the client to read and understand an attorney’s engagement letter prior to signing and hiring the attorney. Knowing the terms of the agreement is helpful in determining whether the attorney is in breach.
Victim of Legal Malpractice? Contact Etehad Law
If you believe you were a victim of legal malpractice, we recommend seeking legal advice. The attorneys at Etehad Law welcome your call for a Free Consultation.