Mistakes by legal professionals do occur, but not all of them constitute legal malpractice. There are certain factors that make a malpractice claim, and one of them is that the client suffered some sort of harm as a result.
If you are wondering if an attorney made a mistake that could result in legal malpractice, there are three main things you need to be able to prove.
Duty of care and a breach of duty
According to FindLaw, the first thing to prove is that there was an attorney-client relationship. This means the lawyer gave you legal assistance or advice. Having a written contract is the easiest way to prove this, but this is not necessarily a requirement.
After the establishment of a professional relationship, the next factor is to show the lawyer was negligent in some way. Some examples of a duty breach include:
- Failure to meet court deadlines
- Fraudulent billing
- Going against the wishes of the client
- Having inadequate legal knowledge
- Failing to share a settlement offer with the client
Damage as a result of the duty breach
The American Bar Association states that another factor is proving that damage occurred as a result of the mistake. This may be monetary damages or unnecessary jail time.
Significance of the damage
Proving a breach of duty may not be enough to pursue a legal malpractice case. A judge must also determine if the damages are significant enough to justify the costs associated with pursuing the two types of litigation that these cases usually involve.