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When does a mistake become legal malpractice?

Everybody makes mistakes, including lawyers. However, sometimes those mistakes can have devastating consequences for the cases they are working on. Understanding the difference between a mistake and legal malpractice is important for you to understand before you decide to work with an attorney.

However, not all mistakes count as legal malpractice. According to the American Bar Association, there are three main qualities that turn a mistake into legal malpractice, including the negligence of the attorney, the type of damage the mistake caused, and how significant the damages were.

Examining negligence

A good way to examine whether or not a mistake was due to an attorney’s negligence is to put yourself in the position of the attorney when you think about the nature of the error. It is very possible that a decision an attorney makes in the moment may look foolish with the benefit of hindsight.

Damage and the significance of it

In order to have a successful legal malpractice case, the mistake the attorney made must have directly harmed the client. For example, if a lawyer does not file a lawsuit prior to the statute of limitations expiring, this is a very classic example of legal malpractice. The failure of the lawyer to file the lawsuit severely damaged the client and the significance is great.

Essentially, the client must be able to prove that the actions of their attorney caused them to lose an otherwise very viable case. It is likely that you will require an expert to prove that the attorney’s actions fell below the standard of legal care. Legal malpractice cases can be very complex, but the situation sometimes warrants them.