When you go to an attorney you have a right to expect that the attorney is going to handle your case with both competence and care. When that isn’t what happens, you can end up victimized all over again—losing your case to incompetence or a legal technicality.
That’s called legal malpractice—but how exactly do you recognize that it’s happened and what do you do next? After all, lawyers lose cases all the time—unless a compromise is reached, it’s a sure bet that one of the two lawyers who go into a courtroom at the start of any given trial is going to lose his or her case.
Here are some of the signs of legal malpractice:
— You’re told that the law clearly is in your favor about a certain issue and find out that your attorney didn’t do his or her research because the law has changed—or the attorney didn’t properly understand the law in the first place.
— Your attorney ignores a deadline and your case is dismissed based on the failure to meet that deadline.
— Your attorney files paperwork with missing required documents or with the wrong court and never follows up.
— Your attorney doesn’t show up to depositions, hearings or the trial, leading you to fend for yourself without benefit of legal advice.
— You find out that your attorney has a conflict of interest that should have led him or her to refuse you as a client (like being related to a business owner you are suing).
There are many other examples that could lead to a claim of legal malpractice, but all of them essentially share the same basic idea: had the attorney handled things properly, you would have likely won your case.
Once your original case has been decided, that ship has usually sailed and you’re unlikely to overcome the decision. Your only recourse in order to obtain the money that you should have been awarded for your original claim is to file a legal malpractice claim. A legal malpractice claim usually won’t pay you additional compensation for pain and suffering, but it will let you recover what you’ve lost through your attorney’s negligence.
For more information on how we approach legal malpractice cases, please visit our page.