When we suffer an injury, we turn to lawyers to help us seek justice and compensation. We trust them to handle our cases appropriately but what if your personal injury attorney falls short of their expected skills?
What rights do you have when your attorney screws up your case and you no longer trust them to help you?
You can sue for malpractice but first, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of.
First, legal malpractice cases are expensive and difficult to pursue. You will have to hire another lawyer who will then hire another lawyer as an expert witness. Yes, your lawyer will need to hire another lawyer as an expert witness because not all lawyers are experts in all fields of law. So hiring an expert is to establish that your lawyer deviated from the accepted standard of care.
Another challenge you will encounter is finding an attorney who handles legal malpractice cases. The second challenge is that legal malpractice is a gray area and it’s often difficult to prove whether the actions of your attorney led to the outcome of your case.
The good news is that sometimes malpractice is usually obvious. For instance, if your attorney missed the statute of limitations, made unwanted advances or coerced you to commit a crime.
How to go About a Legal Malpractice Case
First, you need to understand that it is very difficult to win a malpractice case because of the amount of evidence you need to present. You need to prove that your attorney did not meet the standards that any other attorney of similar capacity handling a similar case under similar circumstances would have.
With that being said, you need to understand four suing your attorney for malpractice:
- Your attorney owed you duty of care as a licensed professional
- Your attorney breached duty of care by not doing what they were supposed to do, being negligent or made mistakes
- Negligent behavior from your attorney directly caused you damages
- The damages you incurred resulted in a direct loss to you
Usually, malpractice occurs when the relationship between you and your attorney is problematic. It could be problematic due to:
- Poor communication
- Inadequate legal work
What are Your Rights?
When it comes to forging a proper relationship with your lawyer, you should be entitled to:
- Guidance regarding your case
- Regular updates about your case
- Making informed decisions regarding your case
- An estimate about how much your case will cost
- Regular communication
- Updates on changes or set backs
- Prepare you for your case
Can You Sue for Negligence?
Absolutely. You can sue your attorney for negligence if they truly violated your rights as a client. You can fire your lawyer at any point you wish but unless another lawyer is willing to take up your case, it’s usually not a good idea to fire your lawyer unless they’ve committed malpractice.
Can You Retrieve Your Information after Firing Your Lawyer?
You are absolutely entitled to all your information from your lawyer and you should sign authorization allowing your new lawyer to get any documents pertaining to your case from your ex-attorney.
Is Poor Communication Legal Malpractice?
We understand how frustrating it can be if your lawyer doesn’t answer or return any of your calls but this doesn’t qualify as a good reason to file for a malpractice claim.
There are several reasons why your lawyer might not be returning your calls and that might include:
- They’re sick
- Have family issues
- They are researching your case
You can try and fix the situation by physically going to their office, writing an email or sending a fax requesting for a call back.
However, if your attorney has a pattern of not returning your calls, it could be a red flag and you should follow up to find out what is going on.
The Compensation I Received was Lower than What the Attorney had Promised. Can You Sue them For the Difference?
Your attorney may have projected that you might get a certain amount of monetary compensation for you case but just because you received a much lower amount doesn’t mean that you have grounds for filing a malpractice claim against them.
The most reasonable thing to do in such a case is to have another lawyer review your case. If they think that you should be awarded far more than what your lawyer advised, then you should consider switching lawyers before settling your case.
Can You Sue Your Lawyer for Settling Without Your Consent?
The short answer is yes you can. However, you have to prove that your attorney had a habit of not communicating effectively with you regarding issues surrounding your case. You also have to prove that the settlement you received was lower than what you were meant to receive or that they did not effectively represent your case.
What Should You Do if Your Attorney Sent You a Huge Bill You Hadn’t Expected?
First, don’t pay your attorney money that you don’t believe you owe them. Ask them how they calculated their costs and ask for a discount. If they aren’t willing to give you a discount, you should file for a non-binding fee arbitration with your local bar association.
An arbitrator is a neutral party that can make decisions regarding your bill and since it’s non-binding, you can reject their decision.
Only Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Suffering any kind of loss due to an injury can be emotionally draining and at Kevin P Landry offices we understand that the last thing you want is to deal with is poor service.
This is why we only have skilled professionals on our team who are determined to help you get the justice that you deserve.
You won’t have to worry about unskilled and under trained interns handling your case or making major decisions about your case.
If you are in need of a personal injury attorney or you know someone that needs one, you can contact any one of our Fall River, MA, personal injury attorneys.