Victim of a Legal Malpractice? Do These 3 Things to Fight Back
Just like other professionals, lawyers are supposed to be held to high standards of duty when it comes to serving their clients. When they fail to provide adequate representation or take reasonable steps to defend their client, lawyers may be subject to legal malpractice suits.
The process of suing a lawyer may sound intimidating, but victims of legal malpractice shouldn’t let that stop them. It’s important that lawyers be held accountable for their negligence if it has caused a client harm. Read on to find out what can be done about it.
Determine Whether it Was Really Malpractice
It can be extremely frustrating when a lawyer does not provide what clients deem to be adequate representation, but is it always grounds for legal malpractice? Not necessarily.
Departure from an attorney’s duty to his or her client is only one of four elements that must be proven in a legal malpractice case. For one thing, it can only be proven that a lawyer breached his or her duty to a client after the duty to the client has been proven, to begin with.
After these two elements have been established, the claimant will also have to prove causation, sometimes referred to as the ‘but for’ element, and ascertainable damages. There is no way to win a legal malpractice case without proving all four of these elements.
Get Familiar With the Law
Although the average client is not going to represent him or herself in court when filing a legal malpractice claim, it doesn’t hurt to read up on relevant laws and similar cases. While the stipulations placed on legal malpractice suits are many, there are plenty of examples of clients who have successfully sued their lawyers for malpractice. Finding out more about some of these cases can keep clients motivated and help them develop their own cases.
Of course, the vast majority of clients just don’t have the kind of legal know-how they’d need to represent themselves in court, which is completely fine. The point of becoming educated on the subject isn’t to become an unqualified expert. It’s just to get a better idea of what legal malpractice is and isn’t and what it takes to successfully pursue a case.
Find a Legal Malpractice Lawyer
It might sound counterintuitive, but the next step to take is to hire another lawyer. Clients shouldn’t let one attorney’s negligence go unpunished due to the effect that it has had on their impressions of lawyers, more generally. Instead, they should find a lawyer who has successfully represented clients in similar situations in the past.
Don’t just choose the first attorney that comes up. Instead, check out reviews on third-party sites and ask a few questions prior to deciding who to trust. Make a point of finding out how much experience the lawyer has with trying legal malpractice cases and don’t ignore gut feelings of apprehension.
The Bottom Line
Lawyers are supposed to help their clients. When their negligence leads to a direct negative impact, it may be frustrating to begin seeking out legal help a second time. Clients shouldn’t let one bad experience convince them that all lawyers are negligent, though.
In reality, the majority of lawyers are highly competent and motivated to provide the best possible representation for their clients. That’s why it’s so important to hold the few that are not upholding their duties as legal professionals accountable for their malpractice.