Florida Legal Malpractice Law Blog

Lax communication isn't acceptable from your lawyer

A person who is facing legal issues depends on their attorney to provide them with legal advice and guidance. This sometimes means that they need to contact the attorney to ask questions or find out information. Most attorneys respond without any issue for their clients.

What happens, however, when an attorney fails to respond to client questions? Clients who are left in the dark about their cases can't exactly provide an attorney with their perspective or decisions.

What can you do if your attorney's bill is higher than expected?

You signed a contract with your attorney, and you thought for certain that the hourly rate you agreed upon, as well as the retainer, would be enough to cover your case under a budget you'd specified. In fact, when you discussed it with your attorney, they agreed that you had more than enough put aside to handle the case.

That's why your jaw dropped when you saw the bill come in the mail. Assorted fees had been added on, and the hourly rate didn't appear to be what you'd agreed to at all. On top of that, the total number of hours you're being charged for seems completely off. On one day, you know you spoke with the attorney for only a few minutes, but he'd charged you for an hour-long session.

Know the statute of limitation for your legal matter

Every legal matter has a specific amount of time that it can be filed in court. This varies according to the type of matter and the state in which it is filed. The statutes of limitation in Florida are fairly generous for most matters, especially when you compare them to other states.

Some examples of the time limits in this state include:

  • Injury to person or personal property: 4 years
  • Libel, slander: 2 years
  • Professional malpractice: 2 years but medical may extend to 4 years
  • Written contracts: 5 years
  • Oral contracts: 4 years

Missed deadline? It could be legal malpractice

Missed a statute of limitations? That can be a major problem for your case. While some judges might be persuaded to waive the statute of limitations in rare cases, it's more likely that you won't be able to bring your case at all.

So, what do you do if you missed the statute of limitations because of your attorney's error? Maybe they sent you the wrong date for paperwork accidentally. Perhaps they didn't turn in the document on time. At this point, it may be time to look into a legal malpractice claim.

Signs of legal malpractice to watch for

Hiring an attorney means putting your trust in a professional who you expect to behave ethically. You don't expect them to commit legal malpractice when handling your case. Even if you trust your lawyer, you should still keep an eye out for these signs of malpractice.

Lawyers are expected to work with their clients. If you don't have access to your attorney, there might be a problem. Some are pretty busy, so you might not be able to get in touch with them right away. They should still respond to you within a reasonable amount of time.

Are you a victim of legal malpractice? Keep good records

It's a shock when you're hoping for an attorney to take care of your case and later find out that nothing was done right. Whether it's missed deadlines or the mishandling of your case, it's important that you get the support you need and are able to have the situation corrected.

When you work with an attorney, you believe that:

  • They have the education to represent you
  • They have the integrity to handle your case in a timely and professional manner
  • They are going to do their best to understand your case and work toward a resolution that benefits you

Conflict of interest: Extreme care is necessary for attorneys

Attorneys are expected to behave in an ethical manner no matter what's going on with their business. They must ensure that they comply with applicable laws. One thing that they must be especially careful not to do is take a client that results in a conflict of interest.

A conflict of interest is something that happens when the attorney is doing something that directly goes against what's best for their client's needs. The key point to this is that it can only occur if the attorney is aware of the conflict.

Jury awards $5.5 million legal malpractice verdict

Legal malpractice can cause people in Florida to suffer substantial losses. A recent verdict in a case in Georgia demonstrates how extensive the losses can be when attorneys engage in malpractice in their representation of clients. Attorneys owe fiduciary duties to their clients and must also be diligent in their representation of them.

According to news reports, a jury returned a verdict of $5.5 million against an Atlanta-based attorney who was sued by a former client who was also the lawyer's former employee. The plaintiff was a medical doctor and lawyer who had his medical license suspended in Virginia because of a charge involving prescription drugs in Colorado in 2007. The doctor hired the attorney to represent him in front of the Virginia Medical Board. Since he was also a lawyer, the attorney hired him to work on medical malpractice cases for the law firm.

Woman sues deceased husband's lawyer for changed will

Florida lawyers owe fiduciary duties to their clients and are expected to represent them ethically and diligently. Unfortunately, some attorneys violate their duties and are negligent in their representation. A lawsuit that was recently filed in Minnesota demonstrates the impact that legal malpractice can have on innocent victims.

The Minnesota woman filed a lawsuit against her late husband's estate planning attorney, alleging that the lawyer had drafted a new will for her husband and had him sign it when he was not lucid. The husband was dying from cancer at the time and was incapacitated. The lawyer then told the woman to sign a release without letting her read it. The release disinherited the woman, and the husband's estate went to a foundation on which the lawyer served on the board instead of to the plaintiff.

Jury agrees that multinational law firm acted negligently

Business-related litigation can become complicated quickly for companies and law firms in Florida if conflicts of interest arise. A dispute between Dentons, a multinational law firm, and its former client, RevoLaze, culminated in a $32.3 million jury verdict against the legal provider. After the verdict, Dentons issued a public statement that declared its intention to appeal the verdict based on the U.S. International Trade Commission's decision to vacate a ruling by an administrative law judge that resulted in the dispute with RevoLaze.

Dentons functions as a multinational law firm through what is called a verein structure that forms associations with local firms instead of formal business mergers. This structure prompted the ITC administrative law judge to rule that Dentons could not represent RevoLaze in a patent infringement lawsuit because it had already represented one of the denim retailers targeted by the RevoLaze lawsuit. The Canadian branch of Dentons had worked for the denim retailer whereas the U.S. branch was representing RevoLaze. The ITC ruling rejected the position of Dentons that the Canadian and U.S. branches were separate entities.

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