Things to investigate before suing for legal malpractice

There can be many reasons why things don't go your way when you pursue legal action. When the outcome is particularly negative to you, it might be only natural to find someone to blame for your misfortune. An easy target is often the attorney you hired.

However, just because your expectations were not met does not necessarily mean you have viable grounds for seeking compensation. Before you make a move, take a step back from any rage you feel and perform a basic examination of your situation.

Questions to ponder

  • Do you have a case? You certainly feel you do, but the legal system requires that you have a clear "cause of action." If you can't prove your attorney's missteps caused your negative outcome, the court could well dismiss your case before it gets off the ground.
  • Have you sought to settle your dispute out of court? Going straight to court might feel good, but seeking to resolve things through alternative means might deliver acceptable results without extended litigation.
  • If you sue and win, can you collect? A judgment in your favor is nice, but if the attorney you are suing can't pay, it might not be worth the trouble. Not every attorney in Florida carries malpractice insurance coverage.
  • Can you afford it? Personal injury cases are often handled on a contingency fee basis. Not so malpractice claims. Legal malpractice suits can be expensive. Ask your attorney for an estimate of all fees and costs before deciding to sue. Time should be viewed as a cost, too. You need enough of it to see the case through to the end.
  • Can you even file? State law in Florida and elsewhere usually includes statutes of limitations – a window of time outside of which claims cannot be filed.
  • What's the possible jurisdictional effect? If the defendant is based in another state, you might have to file suit there. It could well be more expensive. It very likely will be more inconvenient.

This list of questions is not comprehensive, but answers to them should give you a sense about whether to pursue your matter further. If you still have questions, seek a consultation with a skilled legal malpractice attorney.

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