Accidents and mistakes can happen in any profession and can cause a client significant financial or emotional damages. Lawyers have to adhere to professional codes of conduct and ethics and abide by the relevant laws in their state of practice.
People hire attorneys to protect them through challenging and important decisions. But what happens if the attorney you trusted fails to meet their duty of care and you suffer as a result? If you believe your attorney has been negligent, you may want to discuss your case with a California legal malpractice lawyer.
What Is a Legal Malpractice Lawyer?
A legal malpractice lawyer handles cases where a plaintiff brings forth a negligence claim against an attorney. Legal malpractice can occur across several practice areas, but recent data from an insurance center suggests it is becoming more prevalent in specific legal fields.
Lawyers have a professional duty of care to their clients and should adhere to ethical codes of conduct. When an attorney fails in their duty of care or behaves in a way that violates the required ethical code of conduct, they may be liable for legal malpractice. Most attorneys carry professional liability insurance to protect them in a malpractice claim.
Common examples of legal malpractice include:
- Failure to meet legal deadlines;
- Fraudulent behavior;
- Financial abuse or fraudulent mismanagement of funding;
- Failure to appear at a hearing;
- Inappropriate behavior that resulted in the dismissal of the case from court;
- Ethical violations such as the disclosure of confidential information;
- Failure to disclose a conflict of interest;
- Sexual misconduct; and
- Failure to communicate with the client.
What Does a Legal Malpractice Attorney Do?
Proving a legal malpractice claim can be challenging. An experienced malpractice attorney will be able to guide you through the legal process and ensure you present the relevant evidence required to prove your claim. As the plaintiff, you must prove that the attorney breached their duty of care to you as the client and that their malpractice resulted in you suffering financial harm or other damage.
There are three elements in establishing legal malpractice:
- Affirming that there was an attorney-client relationship;
- Proof that the attorney breached their duty of care to the client; and
- Evidence that the attorney’s negligence caused financial harm or other damages to the plaintiff.
A legal malpractice lawyer will ensure that the proper evidence is presented to the court to establish and prove your case. They will also handle all communication and make sure that documents are filed on time so that you meet all of the relevant legal deadlines.
When To Hire A Legal Malpractice Lawyer in California
If you feel that your lawyer was negligent in handling your case and that their actions caused you to be the victim of a loss, you should contact a California legal malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights. It is essential to seek legal representation as soon as possible as each state has a statute of limitations for filing a legal malpractice claim. The statute of limitations defines the period in which a plaintiff can file a claim for compensation due to another party's negligent behavior. This limited window of time to file your claim varies from state to state, so it is crucial to hire an expert that will ensure your case is handled within the deadlines.
How To Find A Lawyer For Legal Malpractice
It may be challenging to find a lawyer for legal malpractice willing to take on your case. Some law firms are hesitant to take on malpractice cases against attorneys in their city, town or district. Team members or associates may have a professional relationship with the defendants, presenting a potential conflict of interest. However, many law firms across the country specialize in legal malpractice.
Here are three ways to find a legal malpractice lawyer to handle your case:
- Search for a legal malpractice attorney by state on the Lawrina website;
- Contact your local Bar Association; and
- Search for testimonials of legal malpractice attorneys
How Do I Choose A Legal Malpractice Attorney in California?
Legal malpractice cases can be challenging, so it’s crucial to choose the best legal malpractice lawyer in California for your unique case.
Here are four questions to ask when choosing a legal malpractice attorney:
- Do you have experience with cases similar to mine?
- How many successful claims have you been involved with?
- Do you have any conflict of interest with the law firm or company I wish to sue?
- What fee structure do you use?
How Much Does The Legal Malpractice Lawyer Cost California?
The cost of hiring a lawyer for legal malpractice in California can vary widely depending on the law firm’s fee agreement structure and the complexity of your case. Attorneys may charge an hourly rate or offer services for claims on a contingency fee basis. If a law firm offers a contingency fee agreement, you will not have to pay any legal fees unless you win your case. If your claim is successful, the firm will recover a percentage of the damages awarded to you in the case.
Do Legal Malpractice Attorneys Charge For Consultations?
Most legal malpractice attorneys offer a free consultation. This consultation allows the attorney to assess your case and provide advice on navigating the legal process. Any information shared in this initial free consultation is confidential and protected by attorney-client privilege.