According to the American Bar Association, an attorney’s role “is to zealously advance the legitimate interests of [their] clients.” Clients rely on this, and on the notion that their lawyer will act in their best interest and in a way that upholds the standard of representation that would be provided by other members of the profession. Unfortunately, some attorneys fall short on this obligation. When an attorney’s failure leads to their client suffering some type of measurable damage, the client may be able to pursue a claim of legal malpractice.
As is true with other types of malpractice, proving legal malpractice requires the establishment of four basic elements. To prove that an attorney has committed malpractice, those specific elements are:
- That the attorney failed to exercise the care, skill and diligence commonly possessed and exercised by a member of the legal profession
- That the attorney’s failure was a proximate cause of a loss sustained by the plaintiff
- That there were actual damages incurred as a result of the attorney’s action or inaction
- That but for the attorney’s negligence, the plaintiff would have either prevailed in the underlying action or would not have sustained any damages
Filing a legal claim against an attorney is no small thing. It is not undertaken as a result of a lawyer making a simple mistake. It requires evidence that the attorney’s actions represented negligence and a failure to uphold the standard of care reasonably expected. Additionally, the attorney’s action or inaction must have been more than an annoyance or oversight. It must have resulted in a provable, tangible damage. Even if, for example, an attorney is shown to have failed to file a case before the statute of limitation expires, the client needs to be able to prove that but for the attorney’s negligence they would have won their case and would have been awarded a specific and significant award.
Faced with an attorney’s actions that seem inexplicable and inexcusable, it is easy to get carried away by emotion and moved to action. To ensure that you have a winnable legal malpractice claim, you need the guidance of an experienced law firm. For assistance in assessing your situation, contact us today to set up a time for a consultation.