Legal malpractice is defined as any negligent or wrongful act committed by an attorney that causes damages to his or her client. Legal malpractice can occur in any area of the law including medical malpractice law. Twenty five percent of legal malpractice cases occur in personal injury cases. A legal malpractice lawsuit is brought against a negligent lawyer by the victim (the client) to receive compensation for the damages caused by the legal malpractice. Approximately 35,000 people are the victims of legal malpractice every year.
There are many situations in a legal case where legal malpractice harms a client. The following circumstances may be cases of legal malpractice: a case is dismissed because the lawyer failed to properly pursue the case; the attorney failed to secure witnesses and experts for the case; s/he failed to act before a statute of limitations or calendar deadline; s/he forced settlement in a case for any reason that unjustly harmed the client; and any other failures or errors that result in client damages.
In a legal malpractice case, there are three things that must be proved in the lawsuit in order to receive compensation for injuries sustained. First, the lawyer-client relationship has to be established. Most often a fiduciary relationship exists between the lawyer and the client requiring the lawyer to provide a minimum standard of service. Second, the damages that a victim has suffered as a result of legal malpractice must be presented and proven. Lastly, these damages must be the proven result of legal malpractice.
Malpractice insurance can greatly affect the outcome of a legal malpractice lawsuit. As a general rule, legal professionals are not required to obtain legal malpractice insurance. Statistics show that approximately sixty percent of attorneys have legal malpractice insurance. Of these lawyers who do have insurance, some may not cover some forms of legal malpractice such as fraud theft or willful injury. If a lawyer does not have legal malpractice insurance, it is possible that the victim will have no legal recourse. In any case, a professional lawyer should be consulted who can advise you of your legal rights and options in a legal malpractice case.
If there is legal malpractice insurance, the insurance company will most likely be the one to negotiate compensation for injured victims. When a legal malpractice case is filed, the insurance company will designate a law firm to represent the defendant in the lawsuit and the insurance company will allocate money should the case be judged in favor of the victim.
It is important in legal malpractice cases to be represented by qualified, experienced and honest attorneys who can help build a strong case and receive reasonable compensation for the victim. For more information on legal malpractice, please contact us to confer with an attorney.
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