Just as you can sue a doctor for malpractice, you can sue your lawyer. While legal malpractice can take many forms, the most common include failing to file court documents or meet important deadlines, failing to communicate with their clients, not disclosing a conflict of interest, and even misleading their client for their own personal gain.
Did you have an Attorney-Client Relationship?
This does not mean that you can sue any lawyer who has wronged you. You can only sue a lawyer for legal malpractice if you have or had an attorney-client relationship. This means that an attorney or law firm has agreed to represent you as a client in a legal matter and therefore has a duty to act in your best interests. When assessing the strength of a legal malpractice case, this is always the first step.
Did your Attorney fail to meet the Standard of Care?
Once you have determined that there was an attorney client relationship, the next step is to assess if your attorney failed to meet the standard of care ordinarily exercised by attorneys in Ohio handling similar legal matters. If they have failed to meet the standard, then the attorney may be liable for legal malpractice. The minimum standards include:
- Filing necessary documents and meeting deadlines
- Communicating with the client and keeping them informed about the case
- Providing competent representation based on their knowledge and skill
- Acting in the best interests of the client
- Maintaining confidentiality
If an attorney breaches any of these duties and their client suffers damages as a result, the client may have a legal malpractice claim. See Ohio Revised Code Section 2305.117.
Was my Attorney Negligent?
The most common type of legal malpractice is known as negligence. This occurs when an attorney fails to meet the minimum standard of care. For example, an attorney may miss a deadline to file a court pleading or submit a record to a government agency. If you have suffered damages as a result of your attorney’s negligent actions, you can pursue an action against them to recover what you lost.
Did my Attorney Breach their Contract?
Another common type of attorney malpractice is known as breach of contract. These situations occur when an attorney fails to fulfill their obligations under the attorney-client contract. For example, an attorney agrees to provide legal services for a set fee, takes your money and refuses to provide you with the services or a refund.
How were you Damaged?
One of the most critical issues in very legal malpractice cases is damages. Damages in the general sense are what remedy a court can grant in order to make the injured party whole. In legal malpractice cases, they typically include economic damages, such as lost wages or medical expenses, and non-economic damages, such as emotional distress. The difficult part is showing that but for the actions of your attorney you would not have been damaged.
Seek Legal Advice as Soon as Possible
In conclusion, attorney malpractice occurs when an attorney fails to provide competent representation to their client or breaches their professional duties. If you believe that you have been the victim of attorney malpractice, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. While these claims can be complex, it is possible to seek damages if you are able to show that the attorney’s actions or inaction caused you harm. Please call Brenden Kelley Law at 216-644-3359 so that we can assist you.