You thought you had a rock-solid case. Your attorney assured you that it was smooth sailing, and that things were going according to plan. He all but guaranteed you would be successful. His assurances gave you confidence, and you rested easy throughout the entirety of the trial, confident that you would walk away victorious. Even though there was so much on the line for you, you didn’t stress too much because you trusted that your attorney had your best interests at heart.
When the jury returned a verdict, however, you were shocked and dismayed. You lost. Your attorney turns to you and says, “tough luck, but we can always appeal.” You are overwhelmed, angry, and fearful for what the future holds. What if you can’t appeal? What if you lose that one as well? What just happened here? How was it possible to lose such a strong case?
You begin to wonder if your attorney has done something wrong or unethical that may have led to the loss of your case. If so, does not winning your case automatically mean that your attorney is to blame? In other words, does losing equate to malpractice?
The answer is, like so much else in the law, “it depends.”
To prove a malpractice case, you need four things:
1. The lawyer owed a duty to provide competent and skillful representation,
2. The lawyer breached the duty by acting carelessly or by making a mistake,
3. The lawyer’s breach caused an injury or harm, AND
4. The harm resulted in a financial loss.
Proving all four aspects of a legal malpractice claim is very difficult. After all, the legal system is set up in many ways to protect itself, just as the medical system. But, if you think that your lawyer’s actions rise to the level of malpractice, it is extremely important that you seek out the services of someone experienced in holding lawyers accountable for their wrongful, harm-causing actions. Contact a local legal malpractice attorney as soon as possible; legal malpractice cases come with statutes of limitation windows that, if you miss them, mean you essentially forfeit your claims.