In every court case, there is a winner and a loser. If the case did not go in your favor, you might be disappointed, but it does not mean that your lawyer was incompetent or committed malpractice. Perhaps the law was not in your favor. If you are considering pursuing legal action against your attorney, you might want to consider a few things.
A client who sues for malpractice has the burden to show that the attorney made a mistake. It could be that the action taken was wrong, or that no action was taken when one should have been. Then, the action must have hurt your case. You must show that you might have won the case if not for the mistake. Finally, you must demonstrate that you suffered financial loss because of the outcome.
Thus, if your lawyer made a mistake, but you still won the case, you would not have the standing to sue for malpractice. If your attorney made a mistake, and you still lost, you would have to show that you lost your case due to the error. It is not cut and dry, and you may need other legal experts examining the case to determine if you are looking at malpractice.
The American Bar Association lists these reasons as the most common legal malpractice claims:
- Failure to apply law or to know an applicable law
- Planning error or not properly preparing for reasonable outcomes in a case
- Inadequate discovery or investigation
- Failure to file documents without a deadline
- Failure to calendar (forget an important meeting)
- Failure to know deadline
This list is by no means exhaustive of the reasons clients sue for legal malpractice. It is important to discuss your case with another legal advocate who can help you determine if you have a case. If you believe your attorney was negligent in handling your case, you want answers that will help you decide whether to move forward or to let your case go.