Georgia Legal Malpractice Claims
Legal malpractice is defined as any negligent or wrongful act committed by an attorney that causes damage to his/her client. 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 to receive compensation for the damages caused by the legal malpractice. It is estimated that approximately 35,000 people are the victims of legal malpractice each year in the United States.
In a legal malpractice case, you must prove three things in the lawsuit in order to receive compensation for injuries sustained. First, you have to establish the lawyer-client relationship. Most often, a fiduciary (when an individual, corporation, or association holds assets for another party, often with legal authority and duty to make decisions on behalf of that party) relationship exists between the lawyer and the client requiring the lawyer to provide a minimum standard of service. Second, you must prove that you suffered specific damages (financial losses) as a result of the actions or inactions of the attorney. Lastly, you must prove that these damages resulted from the attorney’s negligent actions.
If an error on the part of an attorney has caused you to lose a case, or compromised the amount of compensation you should have received, you may have a case for a legal malpractice suit. Filing suit against an attorney is a very involved, detailed, and sensitive matter, requiring a high degree of expertise and knowledge. Our experienced Georgia legal malpractice attorney understands all that is involved with legal malpractice claims, and can help you through this lengthy, complicated process.
Signs of Legal Malpractice
Any one of the following may indicate that you have a legal malpractice case:
- Breach of contract
- Fee disputes
- Substandard legal work causing financial or personal harm
- Breach of ethics
- Conflict of interest
- Representing a co-plaintiff or co-defendant in your case
- Co-mingling of clients’ funds
- Settling without your approval for less than the case was worth
Does any mistake my lawyer makes constitute legal malpractice?
Attorneys are human and, like anyone, can make mistakes. A mistake in and of itself does not constitute legal malpractice. Rather, an attorney’s act of negligence that weakens your case, reduces the settlement or award, or causes you to lose your lawsuit may provide the basis for a legal malpractice claim.
If my attorney’s tactics were a failure, do I have a legal malpractice case?
A lack of effectiveness of your attorney’s strategies is generally not a cause for filing a legal malpractice claim. However, if your attorney did not meet the accepted standard level of representation through unethical, illegal or otherwise negligent behavior, you may be able to pursue a legal malpractice lawsuit. A consultation with the Atlanta legal malpractice attorney at Robbins & Associates can help determine your best course of action.
If my attorney accepted a settlement without my consent, do I have a legal malpractice case?
This will depend on the retainer agreement you signed with your attorney. You may have given your attorney the right to accept a settlement within a certain range without further consultation. On the other hand, if your lawyer has settled without your prior authorization, you should contact a knowledgeable legal malpractice attorney to evaluate the circumstances of your case.
How do you determine if legal malpractice caused harm?
To prove that your attorney is guilty of legal malpractice, you must establish that you suffered harm, such as financial loss or a wrongful conviction, as a result of your attorney deviating from accepted standards of representation. To that end, you may have to effectively “retry” your case, demonstrating what would have happened if your attorney had followed a different course of action in representing you.
What else must be proven in a legal malpractice claim?
In addition to clearly demonstrating attorney negligence, three key components must be established in a medical malpractice suit:
- That you and your attorney had a relationship in which the attorney had a duty to you
- That your attorney did not meet the accepted standards of representation or deviated from those standards
- That you suffered harm or damages as a result of your attorney’s negligence
Is legal malpractice the same as a bar grievance?
No. Legal malpractice claims are processed through the court system while bar complaints are made with the state bar, the entity that licenses lawyer. Grievances with a state bar may result in discipline issued by the bar itself.
If you feel you may have a legitimate legal malpractice case, please contact our experienced Atlanta legal malpractice attorney today to schedule your free initial consultation.