Can I Sue My Lawyer for Legal Malpractice?
DC Lawyers Explain Elements of an Attorney Malpractice Lawsuit
When you hire an attorney for a personal injury claim or any kind of legal case, you expect that he or she will protect you and help you get the compensation you deserve. Usually, this is just what happens; your lawyer is your partner and advocate. Still, sometimes attorneys make mistakes or neglect their duty to you as their client. This professional negligence can cost you your case and the compensation you would have recovered. In some cases, the lawyer may even still charge you fees and/or expenses, increasing your financial burdens. However, if your attorney fails to uphold his or her duty to you, then you may have grounds for an attorney malpractice lawsuit. While this type of claim is often difficult to file successfully, you may be able to hold the attorney accountable for negligence and also collect the compensation you deserved from your original claim.
Finding an attorney who is able and willing to represent your claim against a fellow lawyer can be challenging. However, at Regan Zambri Long PLLC, we believe that we have an ethical duty to clients who have been wronged by their legal representatives. Attorney negligence cases are hard-fought and can be extremely expensive to litigate. Therefore, you need a law firm with the experience and resources to handle the complexities of your claim. In one previous legal malpractice lawsuit, our attorneys represented a client who sustained a spinal cord injury in a car accident. Her original attorney failed to protect her rights, causing her to lose her injury claim. In the end, our lawyers obtained a $7.3 million verdict against the negligent attorney, one of the largest legal malpractice verdicts in Washington DC history.
What Is Legal Malpractice and How Do I Know If I Have a Claim?
As with any professional malpractice claim, attorney negligence cases may arise out of any kind of misconduct. Your lawyer has a duty to provide you with quality legal advice and representation; anything that compromises this duty may be grounds for an attorney negligence lawsuit. Common examples of legal malpractice include:
- Failure to apply the law. Your attorney should fully understand your rights and obligations under the law. However, if your attorney is not familiar with the specific laws and statutes relevant to your case, then you may miss opportunities for compensation. This is common when lawyers accept cases in legal areas they do not normally practice.
- Failure to prepare and/or file proper paperwork. Your lawyer should stay organized and informed about your case so that you do not miss filing deadlines or other requirements.
- Conflict of interest. Your lawyer may make mistakes, intentionally or not, if he or she is also concerned about the interests of the other party in your case.
- Negligent discovery. A poor investigation of your case may leave crucial evidence undiscovered, harming your chances of success. Additionally, failure to submit or use important evidence in crafting your claim may also be legal malpractice.
- Failure to get client’s consent. Your attorney should not agree to a settlement or any conditions without first getting your consent.
- Breach of fiduciary duty. The law obligates your lawyer to act in your benefit and protect your property and/or money. This includes communicating with you, maintaining confidentiality, and complying with your wishes.
- Breach of contract. When you hire legal counsel, you will sign a contract specifying the obligations of all parties. If your lawyer violates the terms of the contract, then you may have grounds for a legal malpractice lawsuit.
How Do I File an Attorney Malpractice Lawsuit?
Although your lawyer may make a mistake or act negligently, you must meet certain other requirements to be able to file a legal malpractice lawsuit. Generally, you must be able to demonstrate:
- The attorney’s duty. This is typically the simplest requirement to meet. The contract you signed with the attorney should demonstrate that he or she owed you a duty of care.
- Breach of duty. You may have evidence that your lawyer missed a filing deadline or committed some other obvious mistake. However, in many cases, this may require an expert witness who can testify about the errors the lawyer made.
- Causation. Even if a lawyer is negligent, this does not necessarily mean that his or her error caused the negative results in your case. For example, your lawyer may fail to gather certain evidence. However, if this evidence would not have been enough to influence a verdict, then you may not have grounds for a claim.
- Actual damages. You and your legal malpractice attorney must demonstrate the losses you suffered due to your first lawyer’s negligence. This is often difficult, especially in cases involving personal injury. To show that you suffered damages, you generally must argue that you would have won your case if your lawyer had provided competent representation. This creates a “case within a case,” meaning that your new lawyer may first have to re-litigate your original claim before proceeding with your legal malpractice case.
In addition to filing a claim, you may be able to report your lawyer’s conduct to the state disciplinary board. A legal malpractice attorney can advise you on all of your options.
Need Lawyers That Sue Other Lawyers? Contact Our Washington DC Law Firm Now
If your lawyer neglected your case, causing a negative outcome, then you may have a legal negligence claim. However, as an attorney malpractice lawsuit is notoriously difficult, you should always consult with a law firm with experience. The attorneys at Regan Zambri Long PLLC believe in advocating for injury victims, even if this means suing attorneys. We represent clients in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.
Call (202) 463-3030 or contact us online today to schedule a free initial consultation.