Accountant, Insurance Agent, and Legal Malpractice Attorneys


BTG_ProfessionalMalpractice

Updated

Jul 17, 2018

Morgan & Morgan’s Business Trial Group regularly represents businesses and individuals that have been harmed by legal malpractice and other professionals’ negligence. Our team of experienced attorneys has successfully represented clients throughout Florida against attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, and other professionals who failed to adhere to the accepted standards of care in their respective professions.

If you have suffered a loss due to legal malpractice or professional negligence, our attorneys can evaluate your legal options and develop a strategy to recover compensation for your harm. Because our attorney malpractice and professional liability lawyers represent clients on a contingency-fee basis, you will only pay a fee if we successfully make a recovery in your case.

For a free, no-obligation consultation with our accomplished professional liability attorneys, complete our contact form or call us at 877-667-4265.

An attorney commits legal malpractice by failing to exercise due care in handling your legal matter or otherwise failing to practice law in accordance with the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct.

This code of conduct requires that “in all professional functions a lawyer should be competent, prompt, and diligent.” It is important to note, however, that a mere disagreement between an attorney and a client usually does not give rise to a legal malpractice claim. In order to have a valid claim for legal malpractice, the attorney must have acted negligently or otherwise violated the standard of care that attorneys owe to clients under Florida law.

Our Florida legal malpractice attorneys can help determine if you have a valid claim and explain the options that may be available to you. Many instances of attorney negligence are covered by professional liability insurance policies and our attorneys are experienced at negotiating with professionals’ insurance carriers. If these efforts do not produce a favorable resolution, we will then file and prosecute a legal malpractice lawsuit against the lawyer or lawyers whose negligence has caused you harm.

Attorney negligence and legal malpractice can occur in either a litigation or transactional context, and in all areas of the law, including personal injury, commercial litigation, land use, real estate, corporate, tax, probate and estate, and contract drafting. Common examples of attorney malpractice include:

Missed Statute of Limitations

If a lawyer makes a mistake concerning the statutes of limitations in your case, it could be grounds for a legal malpractice claim. Failure to file a claim within the statute of limitations can be caused by numerous legal errors, including an attorney failing to identify and sue the correct defendant, not properly investigating a claim, not conducting timely and effective discovery, failing to properly serve process on the defendant, or simply miscalculating the date that the statute elapsed.

Improper Settlements

Attorneys have an obligation to inform their client of all opportunities to settle a matter and to act in their client’s best interest. If an attorney fails to notify a client of a settlement offer or gives inappropriate advice, it can be grounds for a claim for legal malpractice. Common situations that lead to improper settlements include unauthorized settlements, forcing a client to settle a claim, failing to notify a client of a settlement offer, or settling too early to cover up attorney errors.

Client Conflicts of Interest

Attorneys have an ethical obligation to put their clients’ interests ahead of all other parties. The Florida Rules of Professional Responsibility precludes an attorney from being opposed to a former client in a related case or to utilize information from a previous representation against a former client. Similarly, attorneys cannot represent two parties whose interests are opposed to one another. Conflicts of interest can also arise when attorneys have a business relationship with their clients.

Document and Drafting Errors

Attorney errors often involve the filing or drafting of documents. Your attorney should know which documents or forms to file and be able to competently draft legal documents. Common examples of document-related mistakes include drafting errors in business agreements or contracts, failing to respond to motions or missing filing deadlines, failing to execute documents or contracts, and errors in settlement agreements.

Failure to Investigate and Perform Discovery

An attorney can commit legal malpractice by failing to properly investigate the facts of a case or complete thorough discovery. Some examples of inadequate investigation include not requesting all relevant documents from your opponents, disregarding a witness that could strengthen your case, allowing important discovery deadlines to pass, or not following up on negative facts.

Other Attorney Malpractice

In addition to the types of attorney negligence discussed above, our Florida legal malpractice lawyers also represent clients that have been harmed due to their attorneys:

  • Failing to follow court orders
  • Breaches of fiduciary duty
  • Not communicating with a client or not obtaining client consent
  • Misusing or stealing from a client’s trust account
  • Not following a client’s instructions in drafting a document
  • Incorrectly assessing the tax consequences of a settlement or transaction
  • Libel or slander
  • Fraud or negligence

Our Florida legal malpractice attorneys also handle matters involving lawyer over-billing and attorney fee disputes. In general, attorney fee arrangements should be agreed upon in a written contract before the lawyer begins working on your case or legal matter. If you believe you have been overcharged by your lawyer or billed for legal work not actually performed, we may be able to help you obtain compensation or other relief through a legal malpractice lawsuit.

Florida Accounting Malpractice Attorneys

Accounting malpractice occurs when accountants make an error, omission, or deviation from accepted accounting principles, which financially damages their client. Certified Public Accountants (“CPA”) need to follow a strict set of rules about professional conduct. In Florida, when an accountant fails to abide by rules of the profession, otherwise known as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”) and Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (“GAAS”), he or she may be committing accounting malpractice.

Accountants usually have malpractice insurance to cover any damages their errors or negligent actions cause; consequently, it is important to consult an attorney that is familiar with accountant liability and prosecuting malpractice insurance claims.

Accountant negligence and accounting malpractice lawsuits can be complicated depending on the technicalities of the case and the rules (which can defer state to state). Our Florida accounting malpractice attorneys have years of experience about the principles of filing an accounting malpractice lawsuit and can help you understand all the steps in the process.

In fact, several of our attorneys have MBAs or worked for financial organizations prior to practicing law with the Business Trial Group. Our experienced business attorneys understand complex financial issues and regularly work with leading accounting experts to recover the maximum amount of damages available for our clients.

Common Accountant Malpractice Lawsuits

Accounting malpractice can occur in a multitude of different situations. GAAS requires auditors to maintain independence, exercise professional care, perform diligently, report any misleading statements, and receive adequate training. Similarly, GAAP defines how CPA firms and corporations must prepare financial statements, including presenting business income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Depending on the facts of a particular case, accountants can be liable to not only the firm that they are performing services for, but also other businesses or individuals that relied on their audits to their detriment.

Below are some common examples of accounting malpractice:

  • Filing improper tax returns and tax errors that result in penalties
  • Giving improper advice regarding tax, liability, or corporate restructuring
  • Manipulating financial statements or incorrect reports to stockholders or partners
  • Wrongful certification or failure to properly audit financial statements
  • Improper maintenance of records and financial ledgers
  • Failure to detect fraud and embezzlement
  • Accountant overbilling or conflicts of interest
  • Aiding tax evasion, fraud, or embezzlement
  • Incorrect business evaluations

Our Florida attorneys frequently represent businesses and high-net-worth individuals in these and other accountant malpractice cases; we also serve corporate board members and officers, trustees of non-profits and philanthropic organizations, shareholders, creditors, bankruptcy trustees, and estates and trusts.

Florida Insurance Agent Malpractice Attorneys

Due to the complexity of the insurance market, with its ever-increasing variety of coverage and pricing combinations, businesses and individuals often rely on the advice of insurance agents and insurance brokers to select the proper policy. Often times, agents or brokers will identify the risks the insured may face, address potential coverage gaps, and suggest the amount and type of coverage needed. When insurance agents or insurance brokers fail to competently perform these duties, it can leave their insured with significant financial damages, but little or no insurance coverage.

Our accomplished attorneys can help you file a lawsuit to recover damages when insurance agents of brokers fail to fulfill their duties and properly protect you and your family, your home, or your business. Through an insurance broker malpractice lawsuit, the insured can recover damages in the amount of coverage they would have received had the proper policy been in place. Consequently, even if the insured received some coverage for the underlying loss, the insured can still recover the difference between their coverage and what they should have received if they had been correctly insured.

Types of Insurance Agent Malpractice Lawsuits

All of our attorneys are experienced at litigating a wide variety of cases regarding homeowners insurance, general liability insurance, life insurance, car insurance, and various kinds of policies. Both insurance agents and insurance brokers can be held liable under tort and contract theories for their malpractice. The most common types of insurance agent and broker malpractice claims include:

Negligent Failure to Procure Insurance

Insurance agent malpractice lawsuits are generally brought as a negligence claim. Agents and brokers owe a duty of care to the insured based on professional standards for selecting and retaining insurance policies. Agents and brokers are required to exercise due care in advising the insured of the existence and availability of particular insurance and to provide accurate advice. In an insurance negligence lawsuit, the insured alleges that the agent or broker failed to exercise due care, which resulted in monetary damages.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

In Florida, insurance agents and brokers have fiduciary duties to properly procure insurance coverage. The fiduciary relationship requires the agent or broker to inform the insured of all material facts within the broker’s knowledge regarding the insurance transaction. If the agent or broker fails to properly advise the insured or act in their best interest, it may constitute a breach of fiduciary duty.

Breach of Contract to Procure Insurance

Insurance agents and brokers may also be held liable for failing to abide by their contractual duties. The contract between the insured and the agent or broker does not have to be in writing and can be oral, such as when the agent or broker makes an express statement that they will procure coverage. The contractual agreement can also be implied based on the conduct and communications between the parties, their past dealings, or the agent’s or broker’s knowledge of the insured’s specific insurance needs.

Insurance agent or insurance broker malpractice can occur in a number of different ways, but some common examples include:

  • Failure to obtain the requested insurance coverage
  • Selling inadequate or inappropriate coverage
  • Failure to properly advise clients of coverage and exclusions
  • Failure to account for changes in the insured’s circumstances
  • Failure to send the signed insurance contract to the carrier
  • Misrepresentations regarding the type, breadth, or amount of coverage
  • Errors that lead to coverage being canceled or lapsing
  • Selection of a policy that benefits the insurance company and not the policyholder
  • Submission of inaccurate information on insurance forms and applications
  • Failure to notify the insured of a notice of cancellation

Florida Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Florida’s statute of limitations for filing a professional malpractice lawsuit (other than medical malpractice) is two years from the time the incident is, or should have been, recognized. Because of Florida’s two-year statute of limitations, it is important that you contact our legal malpractice and professional liability attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights. Otherwise, you may be time barred from recovering compensation for the harm you have suffered as a result of professional malpractice.

Morgan & Morgan handles legal malpractice, accountant malpractice, and insurance agent malpractice cases in courts throughout Florida, including in Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Naples, Sarasota, and Tallahassee.

And because our Florida professional liability attorneys work on a contingency-fee basis, you do not have to pay any up-front legal fees. For more information about how Morgan & Morgan’s attorney malpractice and professional liability attorneys can help you, contact us online or call us at 877-667-426.

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