Understanding Legal Malpractice: What Constitutes Attorney Negligence?

Documents about Legal Malpractice in a court. Concept for blog post: Understanding Legal Malpractice: What Constitutes Attorney Negligence?

The relationship between a lawyer and a client is unique and must be held in high regard. When you hire a lawyer, you trust they will advise and represent you to the best of their ability. But when your lawyer violates that trust or does not do a good job, the consequences can be disastrous. If your lawyer violated the minimum standard of care and you were harmed, the lawyer may have committed professional malpractice, and you may be able to sue your attorney to recover damages. The lawyers at The Robenalt Law Firm, Inc. can evaluate your situation, determine whether you have a case, and represent you in a legal malpractice lawsuit.

What Is Legal Malpractice?

Legal malpractice occurs when a lawyer fails to provide a client with legal services that meet the minimum standard of care and the client suffers harm as a result. It is commonly caused by an error or omission, but can also occur through a conflict of interest where the client’s interests conflict with those of the attorney or another client.

Just because you receive a bad result does not mean your lawyer committed legal malpractice. You may have received excellent representation and obtained the best result under the circumstances. But when an attorney has committed malpractice, a legal malpractice attorney can help you prove your case and recover the compensation you deserve.

Examples of Legal Malpractice

Legal malpractice can occur in many different ways, including:

  • Failing to disclose a conflict of interest
  • Improper use of client funds
  • Missing a filing deadline, such as filing a lawsuit beyond the statute of limitations
  • Negligently handling a case
  • Suing the wrong parties
  • Failing to prosecute a case and having it dismissed as a result

How to Prove Attorney Negligence

To establish a case of legal malpractice, you must prove:

  • The existence of an attorney-client relationship;
  • The attorney failed to exercise the minimum standard of care under the circumstances; and
  • You were harmed as a result.

If you were harmed because of legal malpractice, you may be able to recover damages. The damages you can recover will differ with each case but often include money lost due to the malfeasance, the amount of money you would have recovered if the lawyer had handled the case correctly, or fees paid to the lawyer and money spent to avoid or undo the harm caused by the legal malpractice.

Signs Attorney Negligence May Have Occurred

When an attorney realizes they made a mistake, they may be reluctant to discuss the case with you. If your lawyer stops communicating with you or takes significantly longer to complete a case than was anticipated, it might be a sign that your lawyer committed legal malpractice. But there could be a valid reason that your case is taking longer than expected, and your lawyer should be able to explain the delay.

Statute of Limitations on Legal Malpractice Cases

The statute of limitations is the maximum amount of time a person can wait until they file a lawsuit. If you wait to file a lawsuit beyond the statute of limitations, your case can be dismissed for not being timely filed.

In Ohio, you must file a claim for attorney malpractice within one year from the date of the incident or one year from the date the attorney-client relationship ended, whichever is later. In some cases, the date of the malpractice is clear, such as if an attorney missed a filing deadline. Other times, determining the date of the legal malpractice is more difficult to identify. An experienced legal malpractice lawyer can review your case to determine the applicable statute of limitations date.

How to Sue an Attorney for Legal Malpractice

Suing an attorney for legal malpractice can present complex and technical legal issues that require specialized skill to analyze. If you suspect your lawyer committed legal malpractice, you should:

  1. Request a copy of your file from your lawyer;
  2. Gather documentation about your original case;
  3. Contact a legal malpractice lawyer; and
  4. Follow the advice of your legal malpractice attorney.

Proving a case of legal malpractice requires proving two cases in one. You must prove that your original attorney committed legal malpractice while handling your case. To do this, you must also prove that you would have received a more favorable result in the underlying case. As a result, you may need to re-litigate portions of the underlying case to prove the result would have been different if not for the lawyer’s malpractice. Even if the lawyer in your original case committed malpractice, a jury could determine that you would have lost the case anyway.

The Robenalt Law Firm Represents Victims of Legal Malpractice Throughout Ohio

If you believe your lawyer committed legal malpractice, you should contact the experienced attorneys at The Robenalt Law Firm. We will analyze your situation, determine whether legal malpractice occurred, and explain your options. If legal malpractice did occur, we will develop a plan to move forward and seek the compensation you deserve.

To learn more, contact The Robenalt Law Firm, Inc. today. Call (216) 223-7535, email trobenalt@robenaltlaw.com, or complete our online form to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your situation.

The Robenalt Law Firm represents people in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Akron, and throughout Ohio.a

Categories: Legal Malpractice