Legal Malpractice Laws

Legal malpractice occurs when attorney fails to render competent professional service to a client resulting in damage or loss. The common basis for legal malpractice arises when the attorney breaches the contract signed with the client or miss the cut-off date of statute of limitations for filing the paper with the court or show poor strategy performance causing economic harm etc. However, as per legal malpractice law the injured party must show proof that the attorney is negligent when providing legal advice or representation. Typically there are hundreds of legal malpractice cases existing in US involving issues like real estate, personal injury, divorce cases, ethical violations etc.

Factors that affect the legal malpractice:

To establish the legal malpractice case and lawyer’s liability the plaintiff must prove the following elements to the court:

  • The existence of an attorney-client relationship
  • Breach of contract or fiduciary duty
  • Negligence in the legal representation of the plaintiff
  • That the negligence was a contiguous cause of an injury
  • The fact and extent of the injury alleged as a result of attorney’s behavior.

Most of the legal malpractice lawsuits are unsuccessful as it is very complex to prove the above essentials to the court. As per the legal malpractice law, to recover the complete damages the plaintiff must establish not only the tort, but also the underlying case had merit and the result would have been different in the plaintiff's favor if the attorney had behaved correctly in his/her duties.

Verification before claiming the litigation:

According to legal malpractice law before claiming the litigation there are some significant aspects that a plaintiff has to verify:

  • whether the case in is within statute of limitations
  • written agreement with the attorney or the law firm
  • malpractice liability insurance
  • blunders made by the attorney
  • damages suffered as a result of attorney’s alleged malpractice

Statute of limitations for malpractice cases:

  • In general, legal malpractice claims are governed by the time limit called statute of limitation. The legal malpractice law states that the time for alleging the claim usually starts from the moment malpractice occurs. But there are some exceptions, and possible time extensions, where the attorney conceals the malpractice or continues to represent the plaintiff in the underlying case.
  • The computation of statute of limitation is very complex to determine and depends on various factors. Each state in US has its own time limit for instance Georgia’s deadline for legal malpractice claims is four years where as Illinois is 2. However, it should not exceed more than six years from the date of actual malpractice or else the plaintiff will never be able to file the lawsuit after that.

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