Florida Legal Malpractice Law Blog

Legal malpractice and the steps to solutions

In a situation that is likely already overwhelming, discovering that an attorney has not provided quality, professional service can lead to yet another stressor. Floridians in these situations may be considering taking legal action. Before one takes these steps, it can prove helpful to know the most common ways lawyers can be guilty of malpractice, and what clients can do in these unfortunate situations.

An article from Business Insider is all too familiar with this type of professional malpractice, as it shares the following common ways lawyers can deceive clients during or after service:

  • Double billing
  • Expense accounts
  • Padding hours
  • Trivial tasks

Bad estate planning advice could be legal malpractice

Hiring an estate planning attorney to help draft a will in Florida can prevent disputes and challenges later. However, state laws differ, and laws regarding probate, estate planning and taxes change frequently. If an attorney does not pay rigorous attention to these, and as a result does not perform his or her legal duty correctly, a beneficiary's inheritance could be at stake. 

The American Bar Association advises attorneys to watch out for common pitfalls that could cost clients serious financial losses, and which could lead to legal malpractice litigation. For example, if the testator's attorney was not aware of the limitations placed on who can witness a will's signature, and one of the acting witnesses was not eligible, the will could be rendered invalid. The state's intestacy laws could apply instead, which may result in a lesser inheritance for a child or grandchild than the decedent intended.

How you can protect your company against conflict of interest

One of the most critical parts to securing your success as a competitive organization, is to protect your intellectual assets and prevent other people from stealing your ideas or doing things that could compromise your strategy. At St. Denis & Davey, we have helped many Florida organizations to learn more about what they can do to protect themselves against conflict of interest. 

When anyone who is a valuable member of your organization's workforce is in a situation where their personal and professional interests are conflicted, they may be tempted to act in ways that could benefit their ultimate outcome but put your company at risk in the process. Chron.com suggests articulating a clear, cut and dry conflict policy that accurately describes what management perceives as a conflict of interest. From here, you should list in detail everyone who is subject to the conflict policy and what repercussions will be leveled if someone acts against the rules. 

Signs of a bad psychiatrist

Many Floridians would agree that it takes a great deal of courage to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist. Even when an issue is not long-term, receiving proper care from a mental health professional can make all the difference. When a psychiatrist does not provide that proper care, patients have a number of rights to remain protected.

When it comes to making that first appointment, some patients may wonder, what are the possible red flags? Mental health resource The Mighty shares a few of these warning signs, which include an apathetic therapist. One of the most apparent signs, finding that a psychiatrist does not slow down to truly listen to issues can be incredibly problematic. Some may attempt to diagnose quickly, which could result in overlooked symptoms. Another giant misstep, according to The Mighty, occurs when a psychiatrist accuses the patient of being "broken"; doctors who cannot see past a patient's issues may not adequately assess the situation. Lastly, The Mighty adds that because the pursuit of knowledge never truly ends, a doctor should be open to new ideas and strategies, discussing them openly with the patient.

Several patients accuse podiatrist of botching procedures

There are certain services provided in Jacksonville whose complexities make it impossible for their providers to offer consumers satisfaction guarantees. Healthcare is certainly one of them. It may be widely understood that doctors are not miracle workers, and that their services are not always guaranteed to solve issues patients may be experiencing. However, the general expectation is that their education, skills and experience help ensure that they are right more often that not. Thus, when a series of unfavorable outcomes can be traced back to a single doctor or surgeon, it may be reasonable to question his or her competence or capacity. 

Such is one of the questions (amongst others) being asked about a podiatrist in California. He is currently facing a five-year probation after having been used a patient who claims that he botched her tendon surgery. This is not the first time this doctor has faced disciplinary action; he was earlier placed on probation for 35 months following a complaint that his mishandling of a bunion required the amputation of a 15-year old patient's toe (the probation period was later lessened by nine months). Local county court records also show that as many as five separate lawsuits have been filed against the doctor (four were later dismissed). Another patient is also reported to be preparing a false advertising complaint against the doctor. Even a staff member at another area podiatry clinic (who spoke on the condition of anonymity) said that while medical mistakes do happen, it is uncommon for so many to come from a single provider. 

Dealing with broker malpractice

Investing can be a risky business, so much so that those who do it in Jacksonville are said to be "playing the market." Like many of those that we here at St. Denis & Davey have worked with in the past, you may simply be a casual investor who relies on the expertise of others to help you in developing your portfolio. Also like those same clients, you may discover that your lack of knowledge of the complexities of the investment industry leaves you open to being take advantage of by brokers. 

Some common schemes brokers may attempt to try to exploit you include: 

  • Self-dealing: Conducted transactions meant to primarily benefit the broker
  • Churning: Excessive trading in order generate commissions
  • Ponzi schemes: Using your money to pay returns to other investors rather than conducting legitimate business activities 

What defines an attorney conflict of interest?

If you’ve hired a lawyer in the past, the odds are that you went through some serious and painful experiences to get you to that point. If the outcome went against you, it’s undoubtedly felt even worse. It’s natural to question if your attorney was up to the task.

Sometimes there may be a question if your attorney did all he or she could do. Maybe there were questionable connections between your attorney and the other side, through either past representation or financial investments.

Veterinary mistakes: knowing the common causes

Most Florida pet owners could agree that their pets are not merely animals, but members of the family. It is for this reason that finding a reliable veterinarian is vital -- reliable in the sense that he or she will provide only the utmost care for the pet. While most veterinarians are trusted professionals, there are some who fall into gray areas. When a pet owner suspects that a simple mistake might, in fact, be a case of negligence, they may decide to choose legal recourse.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed at the many types of mistakes veterinarians can make while pets are in their care, but understanding the most common errors can help soothe a stressed mind. According to resource Loving Dogs Daily, the top mistake made at the vet involves surgical error. Other common errors involve the following:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Pre-surgical screening
  • Medication errors
  • Supervision 

Have you been pushed into frivolous litigation?

There may be many in Jacksonville that view the United States as being a litigious society. It may be difficult to justify such a claim given that majority of the cases brought to civil court are viewed as having some degree of legal merit. At the same time, the question of whether or not every case needs to go to court may be justifiably asked. Attorneys are often paid based on the time they dedicate to your case. Thus, some may have every motivation to stretch your case out as long as they can. This may ultimately lead to frivolous litigation. 

You are likely not a legal expert, so you may not think to question an attorney's motives for continuing to pursue your case (if anything, it may seem as though he or she is going the extra mile for you). Yet federal regulations prohibit attorneys from over-litigating cases when their merits do not justify it. Specifically, Rule 11(b)(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure prohibit a motion being pursued for any improper purpose. It goes on to defines such purposes as being: 

  • To harass a person, party, organization or agency
  • To cause an unnecessary delay in certain operations, procedures or implementations
  • To needlessly increase the cost of litigation

Distinguishing medical from legal malpractice

When you hear the word "malpractice," you likely immediately assume it mean an accusation made against a doctor or hospital. Perhaps this is why so many in Jacksonville are confused when our team here at St. Denis & Davey asks what type of malpractice are they referring to. The word itself is a compound of the two Latin derivative words "mal" (meaning bad or poor) and "practice" (meaning practical application). In that context, malpractice can refer to poor dealings or professional practices in almost any industry.

In the legal world, malpractice claims are generally grouped into two categories: medical or legal. While both refer to errors or bad faith dealings on the part of a professional practitioner, each has its own elements that need to be proven in order to show that a claimant is justified in pursuing action.

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