Everybody makes mistakes, but for certain professionals, those mistakes could lead to major repercussions for their clients. Lawyers are held to high standards for a good reason: the work they do has a major impact on their clients' lives. If a lawyer makes a serious mistake or does not fulfill his or her role properly, it is often the client who will suffer the consequences. Holding attorneys responsible for potential malpractice helps ensure that consumers are protected and that the legal profession as a whole continues to strive for the highest of standards. Here is a quick look at the three most common legal malpractice claims, according to the American Bar Association.
1. Failure to Know or Properly Apply the Law
Lawyers are hired precisely because most people assume that a lawyer will have extensive knowledge of the law and of how it should be applied. In some cases, however, a lawyer may be unaware of a legal principle or, even if he or she is aware of it, may use faulty reasoning when applying it to the case at hand. If such a failure leads a client losing his or her case, then there may be potential grounds for a legal malpractice lawsuit.
2. Planning Error
'Planning error' is a relatively broad area of legal malpractice and one that can be subject to interpretation. Essentially, planning errors occur in situations where the lawyer knows the relevant facts and legal principles in a given case, but nonetheless makes an error in judgment in how to proceed with the case. That error must be shown to have resulted in an unfavorable verdict or outcome for the client in order to lead to a legal malpractice claim.
3. Inadequate Discovery of Facts
Discovery is an essential component of a civil lawsuit, during which both sides of the lawsuit gather together the facts around which the case will be built. The court makes its decision about a case based on the facts that are known to it. If an attorney fails to conduct a proper investigation, which in turn leads to certain facts remaining unknown to the court and the case going against the client, then that client may have a claim for legal malpractice.
It is important to stress that the above legal malpractice claims are simply the most common claims that are made, not necessarily the ones that are most often won. Other claims of legal malpractice, such as an attorney missing a deadline or not disclosing a conflict of interest, are also relatively common. Legal malpractice claims are often difficult and complex cases to pursue, but if you suspect you have been the victim of legal malpractice you should contact an attorney who is experienced in handling such claims. At Weisberg Law, we are well equipped to handle legal malpractice claims stemming from civil cases. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.