Your attorney should be the conduit between you and the legal system. Not only is your attorney obligated to be truthful, but they must also handle your case with your best interests in mind. Additionally, you attorney is required to represent you in a manner that meets a certain professional standard of care. What that means is that your attorney must be competent and prepared at a minimum. When your attorney acts in a negligent, unethical or fraudulent manner, you may be entitled to damages in a legal malpractice lawsuit. Here are the 5 most common legal malpractice scenarios to illustrate what your attorney can and cannot do when representing you.
1. Missed Deadlines
The legal world is full of deadlines – most importantly being the statutes of limitations. Overlooking the time to pursue a legal action can lead to the dismissal of your case. Your lawsuit being dismissed because of a missed deadline will result in you being unable to collect the compensation that you seek. If this is your attorney’s fault, then this can ultimately lead to a legal malpractice claim.
Many lawyers will require a retainer (upfront fee) to begin working on your case. This retainer should be used for the cost associated with initiating your claim. If your attorney uses your money for their own personal affairs instead, or if they outright steal your funds, then you may have a legal malpractice claim on your hands.
3. Conflicts Of Interest
Attorneys are governed by rules of professional conduct that prohibit them from representing clients who present a conflict. Basically, a conflict of interest is where your lawyer has a duty to you and to someone else whose interests run contrary to yours. An example of this is an attorney that represents a client who is suing a business that happens to be owned by the attorney’s brother. This scenario presents a conflict that could adversely affect the outcome of your case.
4. Lack Of Communication With The Client
While not always a legal malpractice claim, an attorney that ignores or fails to communicate with a client could cause a malpractice claim. If the lack of communication cannot be legitimately explained and this results in financial losses to the client, a legal malpractice claim may be successful.
5. Unauthorized Settlements
In most scenarios, a client’s authorization is necessary to settle a case. A lawyer who authorizes a settlement without consulting with the client could be sued for legal malpractice. However, for this claim to be successful, the client must show that the unauthorized settlement has harmed them.
Hiring A Malpractice Lawyer
When you want to sue your lawyer for malpractice, you should hire a malpractice lawyer who knows what they are doing. William F. McMurry, who has decades of experience fighting for clients’ rights in malpractice cases in Kentucky, Florida and North Carolina, is the only attorney who is Board Certified as a legal malpractice and medical malpractice trial specialist in those states by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys. Reach out to William F. McMurry & Associates by calling (502) 326-9000 or by contacting us online today.