Cleveland Legal Malpractice Attorney

Like doctors and other professionals, lawyers have legal and ethical obligations to their clients. If they fail to follow those standards, they can be sued for legal malpractice.

This occurs when an attorney fails to do what a reasonably prudent lawyer would do in a similar situation. If a lawyer is negligent and their client suffers a financial or other type of injury as a result, the attorney can be held liable.

Examples of legal malpractice include:

  • An attorney who fails to file a lawsuit within the required time and the client’s claim is barred by the statute of limitations
  • A lawyer who represents a client when a conflict of interest exists
  • An attorney who neglects a client’s case and the client cannot recover legal damages he or she is entitled to receive

For help determining whether a lawyer committed malpractice, you should speak with an experienced legal malpractice attorney at the Robenalt Law Firm. Tom Robenalt began his career at an insurance defense law firm where he defended attorneys who were accused of malpractice. He has represented lawyers, law firms, and their insurance companies in malpractice cases, and understands how these disputes play out. He also understands how to evaluate a case of legal malpractice and strategies that can be used to maximize your financial recovery in the event you were the victim of legal malpractice.

When Does an Attorney’s Mistake Constitute Legal Malpractice?

When considering whether legal malpractice occurred, there are three primary questions that a legal malpractice attorney will evaluate.

  1. Was the attorney negligent? Clients often evaluate a lawyer’s conduct with the benefit of hindsight. But to determine whether malpractice occurred, you and your attorney must consider the case from the standpoint of the attorney who handled the case. A decision that looks foolhardy in retrospect may have looked reasonable at the time the lawyer made it. You must also consider the applicable standard of care. An attorney must behave as a reasonably prudent lawyer would when presented with a similar circumstance.
  2. Did the lawyer’s mistake cause damage? For legal malpractice to be actionable, it must have caused damage to the client. Even when a lawyer makes an obvious mistake, to prevail in a case, the client must be able to prove that the outcome would have been different if the lawyer did not make the mistake. A classic example is when an attorney misses a court deadline. To win the case, the client must prove to a “legal certainty” that he or she would have won the underlying case. This is often known as needing to prove a “case within a case.”
  3. Were the damages significant? Finally, the damage that the client suffered because of the malpractice must have been significant. Cases of legal malpractice are expensive and time-consuming to pursue. To justify the time and expense of a claim, the client must have been damaged to an extent that justifies pursuing the claim for malpractice. To win a case under these circumstances, you must prove that malpractice occurred, and that you would have won the underlying case in which the attorney committed malpractice.

Analyzing whether a lawyer committed legal malpractice is a complicated question, and an experienced attorney can help.

How to Prove a Case of Legal Malpractice

Proving a case of legal malpractice is no easy task, and there are certain elements you must establish to prove that an attorney committed legal malpractice.

You must prove that:

  1. An attorney-client relationship existed when the lawyer committed the alleged malpractice.
  2. The attorney failed to exercise the minimum standard of care required by an attorney in a similar situation, with a similar amount of experience.
  3. You suffered damage as a result.

To prove that an attorney committed malpractice, you will likely need to work with an expert to establish that the lawyer fell below the applicable standard of care.

You will also need to establish the extent of your damages. Damages may include the amount that could have been recovered if the attorney had not committed malpractice, and the cost of attorney’s fees that were paid to the lawyer who committed malpractice.

Recovering for Cases of Legal Malpractice

Claims of legal malpractice are covered by an attorney’s malpractice insurance carrier. If an attorney does not have legal malpractice insurance coverage, they are required to notify you, in writing, that they do not have insurance. If an uninsured attorney commits malpractice, they may be held personally liable for any damages that result.

Signs that Legal Malpractice May Have Occurred

If you suspect your current attorney has committed malpractice, schedule a meeting with a legal malpractice lawyer. He can explain whether malpractice has occurred, and the next steps to take to protect your rights.

A good next step is often to request that your current lawyer review your file with you. If the lawyer is reluctant to do so, this may be a sign that malpractice has occurred. Another sign of potential malpractice is if your attorney has stopped communicating with you. Finally, if it is taking longer than estimated to complete your case, your attorney may have committed malpractice. However, there may be a valid reason why your case is taking longer than expected.

What To Do If You Believe Your Lawyer Committed Malpractice

If you believe your current attorney committed legal malpractice, you may be considering firing your lawyer. But this is not always the best choice. If you believe your lawyer committed malpractice, you should consult with a legal malpractice attorney first. In some cases, a lawyer will be able to explain why the lawyer did not commit malpractice.

If your malpractice attorney determines that malpractice has occurred, he will explain the next steps to take to protect your rights and pursue your claim.

Legal Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Claims for malpractice are subject to a short one-year statute of limitations. This means that you have one year from the time the malpractice occurred or the time you discovered the legal malpractice (whichever is later) in which to file a claim.

Legal malpractice claims in Ohio are also subject to a four-year statute of repose, which means that a claim of legal malpractice is barred if more than four years have passed since the occurrence of the act or omission that constituted the basis of the legal malpractice claim.

Robenalt Law Fights for Victims of Legal Malpractice

If you suspect your lawyer has committed legal malpractice, contact Robenalt Law today. Our lawyers have extensive experience evaluating and litigating claims of legal malpractice and can help you determine whether you have a case. We will review the facts and circumstances of your situation to help determine whether malpractice has occurred and, if so, we will develop a plan for what to do about it.

Call (216) 233-7535, email trobenalt@robenaltlaw.com, or use our online form to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case.

We represent clients in Cleveland and throughout the State of Ohio.

Free Confidential Consultation

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