Legal malpractice occurs when a lawyer acts negligently or with intent to harm and causes damages in a client. To win a legal malpractice lawsuit, the client must be able to show that a duty of care was established, that the attorney breached the duty to provide competent representation, and that it resulted in a loss for the client. Legal malpractice suits carry a high burden of proof and an experienced legal malpractice lawyer can help you understand if you may have a claim.
Requirements for a Legal Malpractice Claim
To sue for legal malpractice, you must first be able to demonstrate that you had an attorney/client relationship with the lawyer. Often this is determined through a written contract with the attorney. Next, you must demonstrate that the lawyer failed to meet a legal standard of care of what an average attorney would meet under those circumstances. The Superior Court in Schenkel v. Monheit, 405 A.2d 493 (Pa. Super. 1979) adopted the following simple standard of care: “The failure of the attorney to exercise ordinary skill and knowledge.”
Often, a document called a certificate of merit is required. In this document, an attorney working in the same practice area verifies that the legal standard of care was not met and that the work fell outside of acceptable standards. Finally, you must be able to show that you suffered damages directly related to the violation of the standard of care.
Examples of Legal Malpractice Claims
Legal malpractice claims often fall under several categories:
Missed deadlines – an attorney who fails to file documents on time may be liable for legal malpractice. Failure to submit documents on time can result in financial losses for the client or lead to the entire case being dismissed.
Inadequate discovery – An attorney who fails to commit time and effort into a case may fail to discover key facts that are important to the case.
Failure to inform – the attorney may be liable for legal malpractice if he fails to update the client on important or relevant case information.
Lack of Consent – an attorney that acts without verbal or written consent of his client. One example of lack of consent would be a lawyer who authorizes a settlement without consulting with the client. The client would need to show that this unauthorized settlement caused them harm to prevail in the claim.
Conflicts of Interest – These conflicts occur when an attorney put their interests ahead of the client’s interests. This could include failure to provide full disclosure, intentional professional misconduct, or improper relationships with members of the opposing party.
Hiring a Legal Malpractice Lawyer
Legal malpractice cases can be complex, and it’s important to hire an attorney who understands your needs and the legal requirements of these cases. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC has experience in malpractice cases and will aggressively represent your interests. Contact our legal malpractice lawyers for a free consultation and case review. We will listen closely to your situation and advise you of the legal options available to you. Contact 215-666-7777 or send us a message via the online form to speak directly with an attorney.