We all hold professionals in high esteem. Doctors, lawyers, certified public accountants have all invested significant time and effort into getting to where they are, and when we seek their services we do so with an expectation that they will apply their knowledge to our issue – whatever it may be – with seriousness and care. Unfortunately, we may not always be satisfied with the end result. A physician may not be able to heal us, and an attorney may not win our case, or get us the settlement that we’d hoped for. In most cases, we have to accept the outcome, but if you suspect the person you hired performed in a substandard way, you may be able to pursue legal action. Just as you can file a medical malpractice suit against a health care professional, attorneys can be sued for legal negligence.
Not every disappointing outcome represents legal negligence. To prove your case for malpractice on the part of an attorney, you will need to show the same four elements that are true in any professional negligence case:
- That the lawyer owed you a duty. In a case against an attorney, this means that you have to prove that you were their client, usually through a signed agreement of representation.
- That the attorney breached their duty to you. This means that they did not perform the service that they were supposed to or did so in a way that falls below the standard expected of them.
- That their failure to perform as they should have caused you to suffer financial damage.
- The damages that you suffered.
Failure to win a case does not necessarily represent legal negligence, but there are other actions or inactions that do. These may include:
- Not filing papers with the court properly or on time
- Failure to work on your case
- Having a judge dismiss your case as a result of your attorney’s mishandling of it
- Settling a case on your behalf without having consulted with you or getting your authorization
If you believe that your attorney is not paying close enough attention to you and you are concerned about missing deadlines, it is a good idea to contact them directly, in writing, about your concerns. If you have suffered financial harm as a result of your attorney’s conduct, it may represent legal negligence for which you can seek compensation. Contact us today to set up a time for us to meet and review your specific situation.