Victims of legal malpractice do not always know that they are being taken advantage of until it is too late. Just like with doctors and other professionals who have a duty of care, most people put their trust in lawyers in times of need and simply do not see the red flags as they pass by.
However, if you believe that your attorney did not follow proper professional protocols and their actions led to you suffering damages, you owe it to yourself to take action and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Winning a lawsuit against a lawyer may seem like an uphill battle, but it can be done. While legal malpractice cases are not always easy to prove, especially if your original case was complex, having the right elements and evidence will help you immensely in your battle.
The Elements Needed to Prove a Legal Malpractice Case
Let’s look at the basics. In order to win a legal malpractice case, you will have to prove that the following existed when the lawyer represented you:
Duty – The attorney had a duty to you. The evidence that would prove this element is pretty straightforward – the contract or agreement between you and the lawyer.
Breach of Duty – The attorney breached their duty to you by acting in a negligent manner. This is typically the most complicated element to prove.
The lawyer had a responsibility to you, and with that responsibility they should have provided skills and quality representation that is reasonably expected. If the lawyer failed to meet those expectations, or acted in a way that went against their responsibility to you, they were negligent in their duties.
To prove this, you may need to bring in an expert witness who can determine what is reasonably expected of a lawyer in situations such as yours.
Causation – Next, you will have to connect their negligence to the financial damages you suffered. For example, if a lawyer failed to meet a specific deadline, and your case was thrown out the window, you will have to connect the missed deadline to the money that you spent on the case.
Financial Loss – You will have to prove any financial losses that resulted from the lawyer’s negligence. Records of the money that you spent on the case, including lost work time, travel expenses to meet with the lawyer, and so on, might be useful here. This can also be a tricky element to prove.
Some legal malpractice cases are more cut-and-dry than others. A lawyer that didn’t answer a client’s phone calls and missed the appropriate deadlines for a case is a fairly simple case of malpractice.
In some cases, however, perhaps your lawyer didn’t get you as much money as you would have received if a more dutiful lawyer had taken your case. This attorney may have still committed malpractice, but proving that another lawyer could have done a better job is not always easy. For many victims of legal malpractice, they have to reopen the case.
Start Collecting Evidence Now
If you want to win your legal malpractice suit, you should start getting your case ready now. The statute of limitations for legal malpractice in Florida is two years after you discovered the malpractice.
- Evidence of Communication: If your lawyer did not call you back, you will need proof of all of the times that you tried to reach your lawyer. Additionally, any communication between you and your lawyer will help to give the jury an idea of what information you gave your lawyer, and what they did with the information.
- Expert Witness: You will be presenting your case to a jury, and they will have to decide whether or not your lawyer did what was reasonably expected of them. The members of the jury will not be lawyers, so you need an expert witness who can clearly communicate that your lawyer was negligent.
- Evidence from Your Original Case: If you need to prove that your lawyer could have done a better job, you will likely need to present information from your original case. For example, you could show that where was additional evidence your attorney should have found and used to benefit you. If you are able to retry your original case with a new lawyer who does a better job, this can be used as evidence as well.
The best way to prove that your lawyer committed malpractice is to find an experienced Florida legal malpractice attorney. Reach out to us and get started on your case today.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida