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What damages are available for legal malpractice?

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2024 | Legal Malpractice

Legal malpractice occurs when an attorney fails to do his or her job according to ethical and professional standards. If a person feels they have a valid claim, they can go to court to seek compensation.

Since this type of case falls within the civil system, the result of winning is the court awarding monetary damages. There are a few different types of compensation the court can order.


Compensatory damages pay the client for the actual losses they suffered as a result of the attorney’s negligence. This can include any monetary loss, such as the cost of hiring a new attorney to correct the mistake. Proving this loss would involve submitting invoices or other receipts that show money the person spent.


Punitive damages punish the attorney for their misconduct and deter others from engaging in similar behavior. The law does heavily restrict awards for punitive damages. Generally, a judge will require a person proves the attorney’s actions were particularly egregious or malicious. The judge has sole discretion to award this type of damages.

Emotional duress

Clients may be able to ask for payment for emotional distress. This can include the emotional toll of dealing with the consequences of the attorney’s negligence, such as stress, anxiety and depression. The court may ask for testimony from health care professionals or other witnesses that can prove the extent of the emotional strain on the individual.

Proving damages in a legal malpractice case requires demonstrating the attorney was negligent. It also requires evidence of the client’s losses.