Common Types of Legal Malpractice
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.
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.