In the legal profession, cases of legal malpractices are normal and therefore should not fill one with doubts about the profession. Ideally, what you are supposed to know is that a client cannot file a legal malpractice suit without the right instruments that qualify a malpractice suit. In legal definition, attorney malpractice is when a lawyer fails to professional conduct when dealing with a case thereby seen as intentionally trying to sabotage the case. The most common types of malpractices by attorneys include issues to do with attorney fee, missed deadlines, procrastination, intentionally conferring themselves client’s’ benefits, incompetence and failure to follow the law. However, negligence has been cited as one of the most common complaint when it comes to attorney malpractice cases. Of course the client has to prove that they suffered any damages as a result of such malpractices. Since there are instances that inevitable circumstances might be interpreted as a malpractice, the following steps must be taken before a client can file a malpractice suit against an attorney.
Filing an Attorney Malpractice Lawsuit
Whether the case was a commercial litigation, intellectual property, personal injury litigation or patent disputes, the client must first prove that indeed there was a client/attorney relationship and that the attorney agreed to offer legal services. one of the things that the client can provide as proof is a written agreement indicating that indeed the attorney agreed to offer legal services. apart from that, the client must provide proof that the actions of the attorney in the course of the suit were negligent. This would mean that the attorney failed to provide legal services as stipulated in the agreement and under the professional conduct that govern the legal profession. For example, the client can show that the attorney missed several deadlines or failed to attend a court case. All these can amount to negligent behavior by the attorney. Lastly, there must be sufficient proof that the attorney’s action resulted to financial loss on the part of the client. For example, it could be that as a result of skipping a court hearing, the client lost a case that they could have easily won. This can be considered as financial loss.
Consequences and Limitations of Malpractice
The consequences of attorney malpractices can vary depending on the extent of the malpractice and the jurisdictional rules that govern the profession. If the attorney knowingly failed to discharge his or her duties as stipulated under the agreement, then such an action would fetch a stiffer penalty. The same would happen if the lawyer willfully misled the client regarding the case while having information that would suggest otherwise. However, a malpractice offense in law falls under a civil offense which means that in most cases, such offenses are punished by sanctions and fines to the attorney. There is a statute of limitation with regards to the period that a client can sue for attorney malpractices. However, this period is also not standard and often varies between two to six years. Once this period has lapsed, then the client is not in a position to sue for malpractice.
How to Avoid Attorney Malpractice Cases
In the legal profession, experts in legal matters tend to do everything possible to win clients. Whereas there is nothing wrong with this, there are very high chances that this is one area where the malpractice cases arise from. To avoid malpractice litigation, one of the things that you are not supposed to do as an attorney is over-promise. Once you promise the client something that you cannot deliver, you are simply setting yourself for possible litigation. Another rule is to have a calendar system and stick to your deadlines. Of course most attorneys have multiple cases running concurrently. In such instances, it is very easy to miss deadlines but with a good calendar system, then you are guaranteed of having in place a good system that does not allow you to miss court cases. Lastly, always have everything in writing. This way, you also have your defense in case of a malpractice case against you.