When dealing with issues that require a lawyer’s expertise, you hire one, thinking they will help you. But what if they do the exact opposite? Filing a legal malpractice suit can be an option.
How to Win a Malpractice Suit Against a Lawyer
The first thing requirement for winning a legal malpractice suit is proving that your lawyer made mistakes in how they handled you case. Then you must show that those errors were the reason for your loss in the underlying case. The third requirement is establishing that you would have been able to collect from the defendant had you been successful with that underlying case.
Usual Legal Malpractice (or Not) Scenarios
While there are a variety of scenarios that show how a client may consider – or not consider – suing their lawyer for legal malpractice, here are the most common:
Lawyer starts ignoring a case
The more your lawyer ignores your case, the more the situation constitutes legal malpractice. But you must act swiftly to see if your case is in good hands, or whether or not you need to look for another lawyer.
Case dismissal due to lack of action from lawyer
This certainly constitutes malpractice. Besides proving the attorney’s mishandling of your case, you also need to show that had you won, you would have collected a judgment.
Reducing the recommended settlement
When your attorney reduces the recommended settlement amount, it can be discouraging but it’s not malpractice. Either they inflated the initial estimate to secure your business, or they found something that wasn’t there when you first discussed the case, thereby warranting the reduction. In any case, you’re always free to get a second opinion and even drop your first lawyer if you want to.
Lawyer settles without client’s consent
This is another irrevocable case of legal malpractice. No lawyer may settle unless approved by the client. The challenge lies in proving that your lawyer settled for a lower amount than what your case is actually worth
Opposing lawyers socializing
When two opposing attorneys interact – for instance, play golf or interact at a social event – there is no malpractice involved, until one attorney divulges confidential information about the client to the other attorney.
Lawyer on suspicion of misusing client’s money
If you suspect that your lawyer is using your funds for causes outside your case, You can complain to your state attorney’s regulatory agency immediately. When unsuccessful, you should consider suing for malpractice to get your money back. If proven, this is without doubt a violation of your attorney’s duty to you.