Just like you can sue a doctor for medical malpractice, you have the right to sue a lawyer for malpractice. Common forms of legal malpractice include missing deadlines, failing to communicate, not disclosing conflicts of interest, or acting misleadingly for personal gain. It’s crucial to understand that if you’ve experienced legal malpractice, you typically have only one year to file a claim from the date you become aware of the issue or from the date of last representation. This time constraint underscores the importance of recognizing and acting promptly if you believe you’ve been wronged by an attorney.
Did you have an Attorney-Client Relationship?
You can only sue a lawyer for legal malpractice if an attorney-client relationship existed. This relationship is formed when a lawyer or law firm agrees to represent you, thereby committing to act in your best interests. Assessing the presence of this relationship is the first step in evaluating a malpractice case.
Did your Attorney fail to meet the Standard of Care?
If an attorney-client relationship existed, the next step is to check if the lawyer met the standard care typically provided by Ohio attorneys in similar situations. Breaching the standard can lead to legal malpractice liability. Key standards include:
- Timely filing documents and meeting deadlines.
- Keeping clients informed about their cases.
- Providing competent representation based on knowledge and skills.
- Prioritizing the client’s best interests.
- Maintaining confidentiality.
Breaching any of these duties and causing client harm may lead to a malpractice claim.
Was my Attorney Negligent?
Negligence is a common legal malpractice type. It happens when a lawyer doesn’t meet the standard of care. For example, missing a court filing deadline or failing to submit records can be considered negligence. If you suffer losses due to your lawyer’s negligence, you can seek compensation.
Did my Attorney Breach their Contract?
Breach of contract is another legal malpractice form. It occurs when a lawyer doesn’t fulfill their contractual obligations. An example is a lawyer who takes payment but fails to provide the promised legal services or refund.
How were you Damaged?
Proving damages is crucial in legal malpractice cases. Damages refer to the court’s remedy to compensate the harmed party. In legal malpractice, they typically include economic damages, like lost wages, and non-economic damages, such as emotional distress. The challenge is proving that your losses directly resulted from your attorney’s actions.
Seek Legal Advice as Soon as Possible
In summary, malpractice occurs when a lawyer fails to competently represent a client or breaches their professional duties. If you suspect you’re a victim of attorney malpractice, seek legal advice promptly. While these claims can be complex, pursuing damages is possible if you can demonstrate harm caused by the attorney’s actions or inaction. For assistance, contact Brenden Kelley Law at 216-644-3359.
Explore our other Blog Post on Malpractice: Legal Malpractice in the Buckeye State: Understanding Conflict of Interest
Additional Resource: For a comprehensive understanding of lawyer ethics and discipline, visit the Ohio State Bar Association’s guide on filing an ethics complaint.