Legal malpractice can happen many ways, all of which are quite serious and deserve direct attention. Whether your attorney dropped the ball in a criminal or civil matter, if it affected your rights or affected you financially, you may have grounds to pursue a legal malpractice claim.
It is important to understand that malpractice does not occur each and every time that you hire an attorney to represent you and a legal matter does not resolve in your favor. If you get pulled over for running a red light and the officer comes to the window of your vehicle to find that you have open containers of alcohol in the vehicle, there are no other passengers, your breath smells like alcohol, and your Breathalyzer results are well over the legal limit, it is unlikely that any attorney could get the resulting criminal charges thrown out, unless there are other factors at play in the interaction.
Rather, legal malpractice occurs when an attorney makes a mistake or acts negligently in a way that brings you harm you otherwise would not suffer. If you experience hardship or suffer harm because of the incompetence or negligence of your attorney, don't hesitate to use the law to hold him or her responsible.
Four elements of a malpractice claim
For a malpractice claim to hold water, legally speaking, it must meet four specific standards. If you assess your experience and believe that it qualifies, it is probably time to begin building your claim.
In order to commit legal malpractice, your attorney must:
Owe you a duty of representation. You cannot sue an attorney for misrepresenting you if he or she did not actually represent you, in the same way that you face difficulty suing a doctor for malpractice if he or she was never your doctor.
Breach his or her duty to you. Once you establish that an attorney owes you quality representation, then you must demonstrate that the attorney violated that duty through actions or negligence.
Harm you through the breach of duty. In order to build a claim with clout, you must demonstrate that your attorney's breach of duty actually caused you harm. If you cannot identify ways that your attorney's breach of duty harmed you, even if the breach is clear, then you may not have grounds to receive compensation.
Cost you a legal victory. In many instances, you must also prove that your attorney's actions or negligence cost you a legal victory. If your attorney acted negligently and committed a breach of duty, but the breach did not or could not affect the outcome of the legal matter you hired the attorney to address, you may face difficulty making a strong case for malpractice.
Build a claim now to protect your future
Should your own legal issues meet these criteria, you shouldn't waste any more time before building a claim and moving forward. The justice system does provide options when an attorney's actions harm clients, but the window of opportunity does not remain open indefinitely. Protect your interests and rights with a strong, well-built claim as soon as you can.