What Kind of Legal Action Is a Malpractice Suit?

If you have been harmed by a legal specialist who did not fulfill their duty to you, you may be able to pursue compensation. Specifically, you might be able to file a legal malpractice claim to secure a financial recovery for the harm you sustained.
 
But even if you know that you have a claim, you may wonder, “What kind of legal action is a malpractice suit?” To find out, read on.
 
Much like medical malpractice, legal malpractice occurs when an attorney does not fulfill their professional duties to a client. When the error causes their client harm, the victim can hold them accountable. 
 
You should not have to manage the negative consequences of legal malpractice alone. The compassionate lawyers at Morgan & Morgan can handle any type of malpractice case. 
 
Our attorneys know how important it is to secure a skilled and trustworthy legal representative. Attorneys have a duty to act in ethical and professional ways toward their clients. 
 
When they fail to live up to their duties, victims have the right to pursue a legal malpractice claim. What kind of a legal action is a malpractice suit? It is a lawsuit that holds negligent lawyers accountable.
 
To get justice in your case, reach out to the accomplished attorneys at Morgan & Morgan. Fill out the simple contact form on our website to arrange a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation today!

Pursuing a Legal Claim Against a Negligent Attorney

When you are wondering “What kind of legal action is a malpractice suit,” you may be unsure about whether you have a strong case. Speaking with a skilled legal malpractice attorney can help you to determine whether you have a valid malpractice case.
 
To pursue a legal claim against a negligent lawyer, you must be able to show that your attorney did not perform their job function adequately. This is more complicated than showing that your attorney did not work hard enough.
 
Pursuing a legal claim for damages following legal malpractice involves showing that your legal representative did one of the following:

  • Acted in a careless or negligent manner
  • Breached the terms of a contract or agreement
  • Defied the American Bar Associations Rules of Professional Conduct

The Rules of Professional Conduct were adopted by the American Bar Association in the early 1980s. These rules detail appropriate ethics for those practicing law.
 
The American Bar Association’s rules have been adopted by all states except California.

There are many ways that an attorney can violate the Rules of Professional Conduct. To win a malpractice case against your former legal representative, you will need to prove that they were negligent. 

Attorneys are expected to provide a certain standard of legal services. Their specialized knowledge puts them in a unique position of power with respect to their clients. When an attorney's actions do not align with those of a typical competent legal professional, their clients can pursue legal recourse.

Proving Legal Negligence

So what kind of legal action is a malpractice suit? Most malpractice lawsuits are cases involving legal negligence.
 
The legal concept of “negligence” involves the breach of a certain explicit or implicit duty. To successfully show that your attorney engaged in legal malpractice, you will need to provide evidence that they behaved negligently.
 
There are four primary elements of legal negligence:

Duty

A victim of legal negligence needs to prove that their attorney owed them a certain duty. As a legal client, your lawyer owes you the duty to represent you completely and competently.
 
This means that the attorney must act in a way that a lawyer of similar training and experience would act. Lawyers owe their clients a reasonable standard of professional competence.

Breach of Duty

Claimants in legal malpractice cases must also prove that their representative breached their duty. There are several ways that a lawyer can breach their professional duty to their clients. 

For instance:

  • Making unreasonable legal errors in a client’s case
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Not acting in the client’s best interests
  • Failing to fulfill a contractual agreement

To file a successful malpractice case, you will need to provide evidence that a competent attorney in a similar situation would have behaved differently.

Causation

It is not enough that your attorney behaved in an unprofessional manner and that you sustained some type of harm. Claimants must also show that their lawyer’s behavior caused the financial damages that they suffered.
 
For example, if your legal representative failed to adhere to professional standards and you sustained damages for a different reason, it will not qualify as legal negligence.

Damages

Claimants in legal malpractice cases must demonstrate that their attorney’s breach of duty led them to suffer financial harm. If your lawyer’s mistake or carelessness did not cause actual harm, you will be unable to prove legal malpractice.
 
Beyond knowing what kind of legal action is a malpractice suit, it is critical to understand all of the elements of proving negligence. It can be very challenging to show that an attorney has been negligent.
 
That is why it is so important to have a skilled malpractice lawyer represent you. The firm of Morgan & Morgan believes that everyone deserves premier legal representation.
 
If you have been harmed by the actions of your former legal representative, contact Morgan & Morgan as soon as possible. 

Common Categories of Legal Malpractice Cases

Each legal malpractice claim is distinct. However, some categories of legal malpractice are more common than others. 
 
Attorney negligence can happen in a range of different contexts. Some malpractice takes place during litigation, while other instances occur in a transactional situation.
 
There are many different areas of legal practitioners, including:

  • Personal injury attorneys
  • Commercial litigation lawyers
  • Land use attorneys
  • Real estate lawyers
  • Corporate lawyers
  • Tax attorneys
  • Estate and probate lawyers
  • And more

Any type of lawyer can engage in legal malpractice. Any time an attorney fails to fulfill their duty to the client and causes harm, they can be held accountable through a lawsuit.
 
Some of the most common examples of legal malpractice cases include:

Missed Statute of Limitations

When your legal representative mistakenly fails to adhere to the statute of limitations, it could be grounds for a negligence suit. It is important for attorneys to know and abide by the statute of limitations in their clients’ cases.
 
There are several legal errors that can cause your lawyer to miss the statute of limitations in your case. These include:

  • Inadequate investigation of the claim
  • Failure to identify the appropriate defendant
  • Failure to conduct effective and timely discovery
  • Failure to serve process on the correct defendant
  • Miscalculation of the legal time limit on your case

No matter what type of error led to this mistake, you may be able to sue for financial damages.

Conflicts of Interest

Lawyers have a duty to work in their clients’ best interests. This means that they must put their clients’ needs ahead of any other parties. 
 
In many instances, an attorney is disallowed from opposing a former client in the courtroom. Beyond this, a lawyer is not permitted to use information from prior representation against their former clients. 
 
If a lawyer has a business or professional association with their client or the opposing party, it may constitute a conflict of interest. To determine whether your case constitutes a negligent conflict of interest, reach out to the trusted team at Morgan & Morgan.

Improper Settlement

Legal professionals are required to inform their clients of every opportunity to settle their cases. If a lawyer fails to inform a client of a settlement opportunity or provides inappropriate guidance, the victim can pursue a legal malpractice suit.
 
Common examples of settlement-related negligence include:

  • Settling without client authorization
  • Pressuring a client to settle
  • Settling prematurely to hide legal errors
  • Failing to inform a client of a settlement opportunity

If your case was settled improperly, contact a malpractice attorney to get the financial compensation that you deserve.

Drafting Errors

Clients trust their attorneys to draft and file legal documents associated with their case. Lawyers are required to understand which documents are necessary and file them appropriately.
 
Failing to do so may qualify as legal malpractice. Common drafting errors include:

  • Drafting mistakes in contracts
  • Failure to respond to motions
  • Missed filing deadlines
  • Failure of contract execution
  • Settlement agreement errors

If your attorney failed to properly draft and file documents in your case, it may be grounds for a malpractice suit.

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