Legal Malpractice - An Overview
A variety of major life events can call for the assistance of a lawyer: adoption, divorce, serious accidents, business transactions and estate planning, to name a few. In most cases, the lawyer's help makes the process move more smoothly and provides confidence in the outcome. Sometimes, however, the lawyer fails to follow through or makes a serious error in conducting the case. When this leads to a poor outcome, the client may have a claim against the lawyer for legal malpractice. If you believe that your lawyer committed malpractice, contact a new lawyer to find out what your legal remedies are.
Elements of a Legal Malpractice Claim
A lawsuit for legal malpractice can be complex. In most cases, the plaintiff needs to show:
The attorney's mistake must have caused the client a significant loss. A smaller mistake, which may have caused inconvenience but did not affect the outcome of the case, is usually not grounds for a legal malpractice claim.
Damages in a Legal Malpractice Claim
In a civil lawsuit, damages are money the defendant may be ordered to pay as compensation for the plaintiff's loss or injury. When the plaintiff's lawsuit is successful, the monetary compensation the plaintiff receives depends on the facts of the case and the court in which the claim was brought.
The available damages in a legal malpractice case are dependent on both state law and what happened in the original matter, the one that the attorney/defendant is accused of mishandling. Typically, the damages in the malpractice lawsuit will be based on what the plaintiff would have won in the original case if the attorney had not been negligent. The plaintiff usually cannot recover damages for emotional distress caused by the economic loss.
Some of the basic rules concerning damages in legal malpractice are:
Attorney's Responsibility for the Acts of Others
The associates, secretaries and law clerks who work with attorneys may be in charge of important matters like drafting documents and filing papers with the court. When they fail to follow through, serious implications may arise. The attorney who employs these workers is ultimately responsible for their acts that are in the scope of their employment. If the attorney is part of a large firm or corporation, the firm or corporation is likely to be responsible.
Pursuing Your Claim
Legal malpractice can occur in a variety of circumstances. Bringing a lawsuit against any professional is challenging, but a legal malpractice claim can be especially difficult to prove. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate and build your case.
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