When you’ve suffered an injury in an accident or via some other means, you may need every dollar you can get to put your life back on track. Most attorneys will look carefully at a case to try to determine every potential party responsible for your injuries and pursue litigation against them all.
But, what happens if they don’t? Is that legal malpractice?
According to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, that may be exactly what has happened. In Chicas v. Cassar (2023), which was decided in January of 2023, the court said that if there’s a tortfeasor (wrongdoer that caused harm) who was not pursued in the quest for compensation in a personal injury claim, it’s up to the defendant attorney who is accused of malpractice to show that pursuit was pointless.
Why does this matter so much?
In the case referenced above, the attorney who handled the initial car accident claim did not pursue the defendant tortfeasor’s personal assets, apparently reasoning that the maximum that could be recovered was $50,000 from their insurance policy. Had they been more proactive, the plaintiff could have obtained a judgment that may have allowed them to pursue much-needed additional compensation. By merely assuming that there was nothing more to obtain, the attorney in the case permanently deprived their client of the ability to obtain further recovery.
Essentially, plaintiffs who have been injured are not in the best position to recognize all of the potential avenues for compensation – but their attorneys are. The attorney is supposed to be a zealous advocate of their clients’ interests, and that means not leaving money on the table in a case simply because they didn’t look hard enough.
If you believe that you’ve been the victim of legal malpractice, it may be time to explore your additional options.