A case of professional malpractice occurs when a professional, such as a lawyer or a doctor, fails to follow professional standards generally accepted within the industry. Doing so results in an injury within the industry, resulting in an injury or other misfortune for the client or patient that could have been avoided.
In the case of legal malpractice, attorneys are expected to file pleadings and respond to motions in a timely manner using the accepted formats and practices. They are also expected to research and understand the law relevant to their client’s case and use all available arguments and evidence necessary to achieve a positive outcome for their client. In addition, attorneys are required to be honest and forthcoming with their clients. When a law firm fails to live up to these expectations, they may be held liable under professional malpractice laws.
The first step in proving a legal malpractice case is to establish that the attorney owed a duty to act on behalf of the client. Once a duty is established, the lawyer must take reasonable care not to harm the client. Usually, a malpractice plaintiff can establish that the attorney owed a duty by showing that he or she retained the attorney under contract and that a particular legal action was required of the attorney, such as meeting a filing deadline.
Once a duty to act has been established, it must be shown that the attorney breached that duty by failing to take the action required, such as failing to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expired or failing to file a timely appeal. To win a verdict or settlement, the breach of duty must be an error that would not be made by any reasonable attorney. Poor strategy or judgment will not generally qualify.
The plaintiff must also demonstrate that he or she was harmed in some way because of the attorney’s breach of duty, and that the harm would not have occurred if the attorney had done his or her job properly. In legal malpractice cases, “harm” is likely to be financial harm or being penalized by the court. For example, failing to file a personal injury suit before the statute of limitations runs out would deprive the client of potential financial compensation for his or her injuries.
It is important to understand that a legal malpractice plaintiff must typically prove his or her case through the use of expert witnesses. Therefore, legal malpractice cases are often complex and expensive. Accordingly, it is imperative that victims of legal malpractice hire an attorney who not only has a great deal of experience in the field, but also has the financial resources to aggressively pursue the negligent attorney.
If you have questions or would like to discuss a potential professional malpractice lawsuit, a knowledgeable and compassionate attorney from Bailey & Greer can help you determine your legal options. To schedule a free consultation with a Bailey & Greer attorney, just visit our Free Consultation page or call us now at 901-680-9777.
Since graduating magna cum laude in 2005 from the University of Memphis School of Law, Thomas has helped make a difference in the lives of victims of serious personal injury, wrongful death, and professional negligence. Thomas has extensive trial experience in both state and federal court. Among other victories in the courtroom, Thomas obtained several impressive jury verdicts and settlements
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