Florida Legal Malpractice Law Blog

The denial of legal malpractice

Every day, there are people who find themselves let down by a legal professional that they were counting on. Legal malpractice can be incredibly devastating and it takes on many different forms. For example, legal malpractice may involve the breach of fiduciary duties, or it may involve some other facet of legal services. Moreover, this happens more often than many people realize and the consequences can be devastating. Not only do some of those who experience legal malpractice experience severe financial challenges they may also struggle from an emotional point of view. Worse, some people who are responsible for legal malpractice deny the allegations altogether.

If you have been subjected to legal malpractice at the hands of an attorney who violated your rights, look into your options right away. Do not sit by and allow the person who has caused you so much suffering to get away with their behavior, and do not hesitate to hold them accountable. Some people feel incredibly stressed out about the idea of going to court or trying to hold responsible someone who is well-versed in the ins and outs of the law. However, many people have been able to defend their rights and secure the resources they need to recover from such wrongdoing by taking their case to court.

What is the legal discovery process?

The legal discovery process refers to an attorney gathering evidence in preparation for a trial. Discovery involves both the attorney’s client as well as the other party involved in a suit, which helps legal counsel bring together their case. Live About explains how discovery works so you can rest assured that your legal team is navigating the process appropriately.

There are five basic steps to recovery. The first is disclosure, which entails both attorneys providing a list of requested items. Evidence used in the trial must be disclosed, and it must be provided within 30 days. The next step involves interrogatories, which are questions. Your attorney will provide a limited amount of questions to the opposing counsel, which must be answered within 30 days.

What attorney red flags should I look out for?

Whether it’s concerning a criminal or civil case, securing quality legal counsel is hugely important. While most attorneys working today strive to do the best for their clients, the unfortunate fact remains that some lawyers are simply not up to par. To help you obtain the best legal guidance possible, The Balance offers the following advice.

Issues with an attorney’s office

Jacksonville firm sued for mishandling medical malpractice case

While most in Florida understand that the legal profession can be quite lucrative for its practitioners, the expectation is that attorneys will still put their clients' interests above the potential of a significant payday. Attorneys may be incentivized to do so, as there will typically be little to recover if they are unable to secure favorable rulings for their clients. It may only be when an attorney takes their eyes off the obligation they have to their clients that problems arise. 

The result of a recent legal malpractice lawsuit against a Jacksonville law firm serves to illustrate this point. The firm took on the case of a local couple following the complicated birth of their son. The mother experienced a uterine rupture during delivery, causing the baby to be without oxygen for an extended period, which resulted in brain damage. Florida created a statewide compensation agency back in 1988 to help cover the costs of care for babies born with neurological injuries. When compensation is accepted through this agency, the option to recover damages through a lawsuit becomes unavailable. 

What happens when lawyers fail to meet deadlines?

When you hire an attorney, you may put your full trust in his or her ability to represent you in court. Attorneys should have complete and full knowledge of the judicial process and should use this information to ensure your case has the best possible chance of succeeding. There are situations, however, where attorneys do not always meet the needs of their clients. Legal mistakes may be made that have a direct impact on the outcome of the case. Attorneys may be deficient in their responsibilities when they fail to meet important legal deadlines pertaining to the case.

In any type of case, it is imperative that certain deadlines must be met, including time periods where documents and information pertaining to the case may be turned into the court. The statute of limitations gives a specific time periods when charges may be admitted to the court. If these deadlines are not met, the case may be delayed or thrown out altogether. According to the American Bar Association, 8.6 percent of legal malpractice cases involve failure to file documents on time, while 6.6 percent of cases involve attorneys’ failing to know what the deadlines are. Delaying deadlines, procrastination and planning errors can all lead to the issue of missing crucial deadlines as well.

What are the most common legal malpractice claims?

When you hire a lawyer in Florida, you expect that he or she will do a competent job. However, sometimes issues come up and your lawyer does not do a fair job. In these situations, you have the option of taking your lawyer to court for legal malpractice. There are various reasons why you may sue for malpractice. It often depends on the type of case you had.

According to the Insurance Journal, if you had a high-risk case, the chances are higher that you may sue for malpractice due to inadequate representation or breach of fiduciary duty. Many of these cases stem from a lawyer taking on a case that he or she is unable to handle because the case was not properly researched before taking it on. If a lawyer cannot handle a case either due to not having enough staff, time or knowledge, then it is his or her responsibility to not take the case.

How to develop a good relationship with your lawyer

As a client, you have to pick the right lawyer for your case; otherwise, it might spell disaster in the courtroom. But it's not enough to choose a great attorney to represent your defense. You also have to maintain a healthy, professional relationship with your lawyer.

A solid client-attorney relationship gives clients a better court experience overall and often results in more favorable outcomes for those clients. Luckily, there are several ways clients can appropriately communicate with their lawyer.

Prepare yourself before seeking a lawyer

The court is an intimidating process, especially during the first appearance. You may feel tempted to select a random lawyer and speed up the proceedings. However, it's critical to take time to prepare yourself before choosing a lawyer and appearing in court. You should determine the details of your case, your expectations and goals of the outcome.

An attorney suspended for inappropriate communication

In late September, a Miami attorney was suspended over allegations from a legal malpractice lawsuit against them and their firm, according to The Florida Bar. The complaints included details about inappropriate communication with the opposing counsel.

The state bar released an announcement on Oct. 31 about the high court's recommendation - a 90-day suspension and a $1,590 fine. The lawyer was allowed 30 days to close out their practice and protect current clients' interests.

The lawsuit included the lawyer's representation of a California technologies company and its parent company in prosecution of a patent application. The company proceeded to file a malpractice suit in 2013. During the malpractice lawsuit, the attorney proceeded to discuss the case with a client represented by the opposing counsel.

Legal malpractice involving an estate plan

Legal malpractice takes on many forms and can impact those who are working through a real estate transaction or a personal injury case. However, it is vital to remember that these challenges can also affect those who are dealing with estate planning issues. From malpractice that manifests during the probate process to malpractice related to the creation of an estate plan, there are many different ways in which people are affected by this wrongdoing. Our law firm also knows that for many people in Florida and all over the country, estate planning is an especially complex and emotional topic, which makes malpractice even more upsetting.

If you have recently lost someone you love, for example, you may be devastated to know that fiduciary duties were breached and that your loved one's estate has not been handled in the way they would have wanted it to be managed. You may feel angry, anxious or depressed, but it is crucial to remain steadfast and address unethical behaviors promptly. You may also be exposed to legal malpractice while you are in the early stages of setting up an estate plan and this can also be very challenging.

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