When you hire a lawyer in New York City, you expect your case to be handled with a reasonable amount of care and to be billed fairly. Unfortunately, there are attorneys out there are reckless, negligent, use questionable billing techniques or commit outright fraud.
As with many legal cases, each legal malpractice claim is unique and could consist of one or more circumstances. In general, there are four common areas where malpractice can occur. This includes billing practices, conflicts of interest, failure to communicate and statute of limitations.
When you hire an attorney for a personal injury claim or some kind of lawsuit, the lawyer will typically work on a contingency fee basis. In other words, the lawyer will receive a certain percentage of the settlement amount in return for services provided. In many cases, the lawyer will present you with a written fee agreement that details the billing method. However, if you never received such an agreement, your attorney does not regularly provide billing statements or you do not agree with them, you may consider filing a malpractice claim.
Conflict of interest
There are several situations that can cause a potential conflict of interest. For example, your attorney is also representing both parties to the case. Imagine that you are going through a divorce and you and your spouse have the same lawyer. This can cause a conflict of interest to arise.
Other examples include attorneys that represent multiple claimants in a settlement case, big firm attorneys that might have strong connections with defendants or a lawyer who cannot clearly identify the client. Failure to identify the client often arises in estate work and business formation.
Lack of communication
A lack of communication between attorney and client can also lead to a malpractice situation. For instance, if your attorney is working toward a settlement, they cannot accept the terms of the settlement without first discussing them with you. Additionally, your attorney cannot demand a settlement without your complete authority. Your attorney should also always keep you in the loop throughout your case about developments.
Statute of limitations
Many legal matters have a specific statute of limitations. For example, after a car wreck, you might have up to two years to file a claim against the other driver or the insurance company. No matter the particular circumstances of your case, your attorney should be aware of the statute of limitations. If your attorney does not file your claim within the time limitation, you could have basis to file a malpractice claim.
If one of the above situations applies to you, keep in mind that you have options. You might be able to file a legal malpractice claim and win compensation for the damages.