When you sustain an injury because of an accident or other negligent act, you might contact a personal injury law firm to handle your case. By hiring a lawyer, you trust that they will work hard to recover compensation for your injuries and damages.
What happens if the personal injury attorney fails to do their job? If your attorney screws up your case, what can you do? If you believe your personal injury attorney screwed up your case and the lawyer failed to provide adequate legal services, you should contact our law firm immediately. This article will provide further insight on the topic in the meantime.
You Have Rights as a Client
When you hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your case, you have rights as a client. You can and should expect your personal injury attorney to do the following:
- Provide you with sound legal advice about your case based on the relevant statutes and case law
- Give you an honest assessment of the costs of pursuing a legal claim
- Provide routine updates on the progress of your case
- Advise you of their legal opinion and the basis for that legal opinion
- Inform you of setbacks, delays, and changes in your case
- Evaluate and explain the pros and cons of accepting a settlement offer versus taking a case to trial, including a cost-benefit analysis
- Provide sufficient information for you to make an informed decision about settlement and other legal options
- Allow you to make crucial decisions about the direction of your case
- Take all necessary steps to advance the case, including conducting an investigation and discovery
- Engage in trial preparation
You have the right to expect effective communication with your lawyer. The attorney should understand your legal issue and have sufficient experience and knowledge to handle the case. In addition, lawyers must comply with ethics laws and treat you honestly and fairly.
Examples of Legal Malpractice in Miami, FL
Lawyers are not perfect. They make mistakes. Furthermore, a personal injury attorney cannot guarantee a specific outcome for your case.
However, if a lawyer fails to provide adequate legal services, their actions could rise to the level of malpractice. Malpractice describes a situation in which a professional fails to perform their duty to a client.
Examples of situations that could potentially result in a legal malpractice case include:
- Failing to check for a conflict of interest before accepting a personal injury case
- Mishandling funds paid to the law firm to be held in trust for the client
- Allowing the statute of limitations to expire before filing a lawsuit
- Failing to attend court hearings
- Violating the attorney-client privilege by disclosing privileged and confidential information
- Intentionally misleading a client regarding the law or other matters
- Committing fraud
- Failing to file required documents with the court or meeting court deadlines
- Incorrectly applying the law to the client’s case
- Not obtaining consent from the client before accepting a personal injury settlement offer
- Refusing to present all settlement offers to the client for consideration
Legal malpractice could give you a reason to sue your attorney for damages. However, you have the burden of proving that your lawyer’s conduct or inactions rose to the level of malpractice.
Proving Your Personal Injury Lawyer Committed Malpractice
Failing to win your case does not prove that the lawyer committed malpractice. Lawyers cannot guarantee that you will win a case or receive a specific amount of money. Winning legal malpractice claims requires you to prove:
You must have an attorney-client relationship with the lawyer to establish a duty of care. Answering a question at your child’s school function does not necessarily establish an attorney-client relationship. Generally, signing a retainer agreement or paying a retainer fee is sufficient to show that you had an attorney-client relationship.
Duty of Care
The attorney-client relationship creates a legal duty of care to act in your best interest and provide competent legal services. The attorney owes you a duty to act with reasonable care when handling your case.
Breach of Duty
A breach of the duty of care occurs when the lawyer fails to meet specific standards for representing a client. The attorney might have violated the professional standards or provided inadequate legal services. The lawyer could have been dishonest or incompetent.
The lawyer’s conduct must have been the direct and proximate cause of harm. You must link the attorney’s breach of duty to identifiable harm that you sustained. For example, you lost the right to file a lawsuit because the lawyer allowed the statute of limitations to expire.
You must have sustained financial losses because of the lawyer’s breach of duty to receive compensation for a legal malpractice claim.
Things To Keep in Mind About Lawyer Malpractice Claims
A few key points to remember when considering whether your lawyer might be guilty of legal malpractice include:
- You can fire your lawyer at any time. However, unless your lawyer breached the duty of care and caused you financial harm, you might not be able to sue them for malpractice.
- If you fire your lawyer, you need to request a copy of your file or sign an authorization requesting the lawyer transfer the file to your new attorney.
- Failing to talk to you immediately or return phone calls might not be legal malpractice. However, it could signal that you need to hire another personal injury lawyer to handle your case before matters worsen.
- The communication between you and your attorney is private and confidential. Therefore, it could be malpractice if the attorney discloses the information without your permission.
- If your personal injury lawsuit is dismissed, you would need to consult another attorney to determine if your lawyer’s conduct was the reason the case was dismissed or if there is a legal reason your case could not be pursued.
- Generally, you cannot sue your lawyer if you do not receive the amount of money your attorney said your case is worth. However, you could get a second opinion from another lawyer if you believe your attorney screwed up the case, and that is why you did not receive full compensation for damages.
- You have the right to accept or refuse settlement offers. Settling your case without your consent is typically grounds to sue the attorney.
Determining whether a personal injury lawyer committed legal malpractice can be challenging. Therefore, you need to consult a malpractice lawyer about your case as soon as possible.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Miami Personal Injury Lawyer
Our legal team at Shaked Law Firm recognizes our clients’ trust in us to get them the money they deserve after a personal injury or accident. We are dedicated to assisting injured victims and their families in holding negligent parties responsible for the damages they cause.
Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with one of our Miami personal injury attorneys at Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss your case. We are here to help you as you continue to heal and try to get your life back after a tragic accident or personal injury. Call us at (305) 937-0191.