When you hire an attorney, you expect them to defend you in a complex situation. However, not every attorney proves to be trustworthy or competent. What can you do if an attorney doesn’t deliver on a promise? Don’t suffer silently – learn how to fight back with a legal malpractice suit.
The first thing you should know is that legal malpractice suits are very difficult to win – especially on your own. You need to work with an attorney experienced at handling legal malpractice suits who won’t be afraid to fight on your behalf. Do not attempt to fight the battle by yourself, or you may quickly feel overwhelmed and discouraged. It cannot be emphasized enough: reach out to a knowledgeable lawyer for help.
Secondly, you need to know what does not constitute a legal malpractice suit before you understand what does. For example, you cannot file a legal malpractice suit if your lawyer failed to win your case, since no lawyer can guarantee an outcome. Here are several examples of situations that do not qualify for legal malpractice suits.
You must be able to prove negligence to win your case.
What It Takes in Florida to Prove Legal Negligence
Your new attorney must be able to prove these four elements are true in a legal malpractice suit:
- You entered some form of agreement, written or otherwise, that established an attorney-client relationship.
- The attorney understood what to do with your case, but intentionally and knowingly acted in negligence, error, or against your agreement.
- The negligent actions of your attorney directly caused you loss of financial property that you would have received from your opponent had the attorney acted in good faith.
- You suffered damages due to your attorney’s negligence.
Here are some common examples of situations that can be called legal malpractice:
- The attorney ignored your case.
- The court rejected your case because the attorney did not perform their duties.
- The attorney did not file your case on time with the court.
- The attorney failed to recognize the statute of limitations within your case.
- The attorney did not check your case for conflicts.
- The attorney incorrectly applied a law to your case.
- The attorney breached the attorney-client privacy protocol.
- The attorney settled your case without first consulting with you.
- The attorney misused funds you provided on retainer.
In short, attorneys breach the recognized standard of service if they do not provide competent representation, which is comprised of knowledge of the law, proven skill, a thorough approach, and sufficient preparation.
Why You Want to Bring a Legal Malpractice Lawsuit against a Florida Lawyer Who Has Wronged You
Now that you understand more about what legal malpractice is, here are several reasons why a legal malpractice suit is worth pursuing.
- It’s the only way to recoup your losses. When you win a legal malpractice suit, you will gain back the money you lost, along with possible additional damages. More importantly, filing a malpractice lawsuit is the only legal recourse you have for doing this.
Given the fact that attorney fees will almost certainly be in the thousands – if not tens of thousands – of dollars, the fight is likely well worth it. Plus, that’s not even counting what you might have lost out on in your case if their incompetence led to you losing. In truly serious cases of malpractice, your damage might end up being in the millions.
- You get to hold them accountable. Choosing a lawyer is a lot like picking a contractor to build your house. Or even a doctor. You are putting your trust in them. You expect them to be good at their job, to know how best to help you, and – of course – to actually do it.
Working with a negligent attorney isn’t just frustrating. It goes beyond the disappointment at wasting time and money. It’s a betrayal. That hurts.
Holding them accountable for their actions is a way to take back a bit of control. A way to show them that they can’t just go around treating people the way they treated you. A way to get some closure on a painful, embarrassing situation.
- You get to help others. Walking away from a negligent lawyer isn’t doing nothing. It isn’t “moving on.” It’s actually empowering them to keep doing what they did to you to other people.
Fighting back changes that. Not only does it tell them that their behavior was wrong and they can’t just get away with it – you’re basically warning everyone else about them as well.
Suing an attorney for negligence is worse than a thousand 1-star reviews. It’s a black mark against them that others will know about.
Ready to get started with your legal malpractice suit? Reach out today for a free consultation.
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 and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.