While legal malpractice cases can be complex, in some cases filing a malpractice suit against a lawyer who exhibited negligence in your case may be your only recourse. The legal malpractice may be obvious, such as a missed deadline or statute of limitations. Other times, the issue may fall in the “gray” area regarding whether legal malpractice occurred and whether it had a significant impact on the outcome of your case. If you believe that your attorney’s negligence has harmed you financially, you need an attorney on your side that has experience litigating legal malpractice cases.
Legal Malpractice—Two Cases in One
Legal malpractice cases are two cases in one. You must prove that your attorney exhibited negligence while handling your case, and if that negligence had not occurred, you would have received a more favorable outcome, settlement, or judgment than you did. Substantial levels of re-litigation of the original case are often necessary in order to be successful in a legal malpractice case. Even when the attorney in your original case made a serious error, a jury may feel you would have lost the case no matter what. Many legal malpractice cases arise from a situation in which the attorney recovered some money for his or her client, but the client believes they would have received more but for the attorney’s negligence.
Steps to Take to Sue Your Lawyer for Malpractice
There are several steps to take if you believe you have a good case for legal malpractice, including:
- Obtain your case file from your original attorney;
- Gather all documentation pertaining to the original case;
- Contact a legal malpractice attorney;
- Schedule a consultation with the legal malpractice attorney you choose, and
- Follow the advice of your legal malpractice attorney at all times.
Elements of a Legal Malpractice Case
In order to prove legal malpractice, your new attorney must show four elements of the case. The first is that your original attorney owed you a duty of care to act properly in your case. There is usually a contract or agreement between a client and attorney which affirms this duty of care. Secondly, it must be shown that your original attorney breached this duty of care. The attorney may have failed to do what he or she agreed to do, was negligent, or made a mistake that another attorney in a similar situation would not have done. Third, the attorney’s conduct must have caused you damage, and finally, you must have suffered financial losses as a result of your attorney’s actions (or inaction).
An Example of Legal Malpractice
As an example, let’s assume you slipped and fell in a restaurant because the floor was wet. Several people had complained about the wet floor, yet the restaurant management failed to clean up the mess. You seriously injured your back in the fall, and hired a personal injury attorney to sue the restaurant. Your attorney missed crucial deadlines, causing the judge to dismiss the case and bar you from re-filing. You can prove your attorney owed you a duty of care with the representation agreement you signed. You can prove your attorney failed, through negligence, to file your case in a timely manner. With witness statements and a medical expert you can prove the wet floor caused you significant loss. You can finally show your attorney’s misconduct harmed you financially, in that you were unable to recover a settlement from the restaurant. In this instance, you may have a good chance of being successful with a legal malpractice case.
Contact Legal Malpractice Lawyers
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our legal malpractice lawyers understand how devastating legal malpractice can be to your case. As experienced malpractice lawyers, we have represented individuals and small businesses in the Washington, DC metro area, Virginia, and throughout the State of Maryland. If you believe your attorney committed legal malpractice in a case, it could be in your best interests to speak to a lawyer who is experienced in legal malpractice cases and will ensure your rights are protected.
Our Washington DC legal malpractice attorneys work tirelessly from the very start to protect victims of legal malpractice. Call us at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6635 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.
The legal malpractice attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates have successfully represented injured individuals in Washington, DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Annapolis, Rockville, Baltimore, Richmond, Fairfax, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and other locations throughout Maryland and Virginia.