Schwartz & Ponterio, PLLC holds lawyers responsible for legal malpractice.

What are the elements of legal malpractice?

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2022 | Legal Malpractice

Facing any kind of legal matter can be a trying period for most people. Even if you are innocent, you will still need representation to get off the hook lest you end up paying the price for an offense you did not commit. And this is where a close attorney-client relationship comes in.

However, it is not uncommon for a lawyer to fail to meet the standards set forth by case law as well as the American Bar Association (ABA). If this happens, you may hold the attorney liable for legal malpractice. However, to bring a legal malpractice claim against an attorney, you will need to establish the following elements.

The attorney must have owed you a duty of care

Like in any professional, your attorney is expected to act with reasonable diligence while handling your case. They are also required to avoid all conflicts of interest. If your attorney breached any of these duties, you may pursue them for the resulting damages.

The attorney must have breached their duty of care

Basically, a breach of duty happens when the lawyer willfully fails to provide the level of legal representation expected from them. Examples of these may include mishandling your evidence, failing to file your case within the statute of limitations period, providing misleading counsel or failing to show up in court during your trial.

The breach must have resulted in provable damages

Causation happens when your attorney’s breach of duty of care leads to harm (in this case, an unfavorable outcome for your case.) Of course, this can be difficult to prove at first. You must show that you could have prevailed in your case should the attorney have taken their work seriously. To prove damages, you may need professional help to review your case and possibly file an appeal.

Legal malpractice not only hurts the plaintiff but the entire justice system as well.