When dealing with issues that require a lawyer’s expertise, you hire one, thinking they will help you. But what if they end up making things worse? Filing a legal malpractice suit can be an option.
How to Win a Malpractice Suit Against a Lawyer
Winning a malpractice case against an attorney requires proof that the they made errors in handling your case. Then you need to show that without those mistakes, you could have won the underlying case. Third requirement is establishing that winning such underlying case would have allowed you to collect from the defendant.
Typical Legal Malpractice Scenarios (or Not)
While there are a variety of scenarios that show how a client may consider – or not consider – suing their lawyer for legal malpractice, here are the most common:
Lawyer deliberately discontinues work on a case
The more your lawyer ignores your case, the more the situation constitutes legal malpractice. But you have to act fast to see if your case is getting the attention needs, and whether or not you have to find another attorney.
Case dismissed due to attorney’s inaction
This is definitely malpractice. Besides proving the attorney’s mishandling of your case, you also need to show that had you won, you would have collected a judgment.
Reducing the recommended settlement
When your lawyer downgrades the recommended settlement amount, it can be frustrating, but it does not constitute malpractice. It’s either they deliberately inflated the first estimate to get your business, or they found something that wasn’t there when you first presented your case, thus the reduction. In any case, you have the option to get a second opinion and change lawyers if you think it is best thing to do.
Lawyer settles without consulting client
This is another clear ground for legal malpractice. No lawyer may settle unless approved by the client. The challenge lies in proving that your lawyer settled for a lower amount than what your case is actually worth
Opposing lawyers having social interaction
There’s nothing wrong with two opposing lawyers interacting (for example, playing tennis, attending a social event, etc.), but when one attorney reveals confidential information about the clients to the other attorney, that is malpractice.
Lawyer on suspicion of misusing client’s money
When you suspect that your attorney is misusing your funds, report them right away to the regulatory office of your state attorney. When unsuccessful, you should consider suing for malpractice to get your money back. If proven, this is an obvious violation of your lawyer’s duty to you.