When A Lawyer’s Poorly Drafted Contract Causes Harm
Our legal malpractice lawyers at St. Denis & Davey can advise you about your legal options if you believe your attorney’s careless drafting of a legal document caused you harm. Our Florida law firm helps victims of legal malpractice throughout the state.
Poorly Drafted Documents And Legal Malpractice
One of the main responsibilities of an attorney is to draft legally sound and clearly written legal documents needed to meet their clients’ goals. For example, consider the crucial importance to individual and commercial clients of valid legal documents such as:
- Contracts and agreements
- Wills and trusts
- Documents creating new business entities, like articles of incorporation or partnership agreements
- Residential and commercial leases
- Loans and mortgages
- Insurance policies
- Marital agreements
- Legal notices, such as for eviction
- Communications with legal ramifications, such as a letter to cease and desist or a demand letter
- Employment agreements
- Powers of attorney
- Settlement offers and agreements
There are many ways that an attorney can make a detrimental mistake with the drafting of a document. For example, a lawsuit could fail because the judge or jury deemed a key legal document that your attorney drafted ambiguous. Or maybe you were sued because the words in a contract your lawyer drafted created ambiguity that allowed more than one reasonable meaning. In any of these scenarios, your attorney’s negligence may have resulted in a monetary judgment against you, and/or you could have sustained business or personal financial losses, in addition to taking on liability for unplanned legal fees and costs.
The blame for such losses points to the lawyer who drafted the agreement or other legal documents containing ambiguous language or provisions. In some instances, the client who was harmed by the ambiguity may be able to file a legal malpractice suit against the drafting attorney.
The Problem Of Ambiguous Language
A critical component of competent legal document drafting is that the chosen words, phrases, sentences and overall writing do not create a document that is ambiguous on its face (patent ambiguity). Florida courts have said that patent ambiguity results from “defective, obscure or insensible” drafting.
Nor should the document result in ambiguity when construed in light of later events or circumstances (latent ambiguity), even when the language might be clear.
The Florida Supreme Court has emphasized that ambiguity in an agreement or other legal document is present when its language has unclear meaning that leads to opposing conclusions or more than one interpretation or construction that is reasonable or fair.
Ambiguity That Leads To Litigation
Drafting contracts and documents with ambiguous language can come up in many areas of law and in a variety of scenarios. For example, in one Florida case, the issue was whether, in a noncompete agreement, a limit on practicing medicine within “five square miles” means within a five-mile radius of another medical practice or something else. It will depend on whether your lawyer failed to adhere to the applicable standard of care and whether you were financially or otherwise injured as a result.
Contact A Malpractice Attorney For A Consultation
Our lawyers are available for consultation appointments. During this appointment, we can discuss your possible claims and answer your questions about filing a legal malpractice claim against your former attorney. To schedule an appointment, contact us by calling 1-800-785-2153 or by sending us an email.