Deciding to work with a lawyer is a big deal. When you put trust (and money) into a hiring a lawyer, you may have thousands of dollars in damages, a clean criminal record, visitation rights, and more on the line. Additionally, attorneys have a legal and professional duty to do what they can to provide you with the best possible representation.
Unfortunately, lawyers make mistakes just like everyone else. Sometimes, these mistakes may constitute professional negligence.
If your attorney’s negligence caused you material harm (for example, costing you money or leading to a conviction) the state of Florida gives you the right to sue your representative for legal malpractice in order to hold them accountable for their actions and provide you with the compensation that you deserve.
Legal malpractice can be complicated to understand, however, and even harder to prove.
When Has a Lawyer Committed Malpractice?
You can’t just file a lawsuit against a former lawyer because you didn’t like the outcome of your case. In some situations, an attorney can do everything in their power and still fail to prove your innocence or get you the full compensation you were seeking.
So what constitutes legal malpractice specifically?
The following situations represent the most common types of legal malpractice cases. If your situation doesn’t quite seem to fit into any of these, it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a case. The best way to know for sure is to reach out to our office.
Failure to Know or Apply the Law: Knowing the law is a pretty important duty placed upon all lawyers, whether you are dealing with criminal charges or determining fault after an auto accident. This includes knowing the changes and updates made to the law throughout the years.
One new provision to a law could make or break a case, so details are key. If your lawyer did not know the details of the law well enough and allowed your case to end unfavorably and unjustly, you may have a strong case of legal malpractice against them.
Failure to Meet Deadlines: Deadlines for specific petitions or paperwork can make or break a case. Your lawyer has the knowledge of these deadlines, experience working with them, and you paid him or her to make them. Failing to do so is a strong argument supporting negligence.
Failure to Appear for Hearings: A lawyer’s advice over the phone can only go so far. Failing to show up to court with a client is a big no-no. It can make a huge difference in a case and cost the client through the final ruling.
Inadequate Investigation or Discovery: During the discovery phase, an attorney must gather all of the relevant information, including witness testimony or financial documents that could be used in trial.
Let’s say you offered to give your lawyer an affidavit or the name of a witness that might have helped in your trial, but the lawyer refused to take it or consider it. If you can prove how this piece of evidence would have helped your case, you may be able to prove the lawyer was negligent.
Conflict of Interest: You are not the only client of your attorney. Attorneys handle multiple cases at once, but are strictly advised not to take on two clients with conflicting interests. Working against your case in favor of another client’s case is a conflict of interest.
Commingling: Attorneys who deal with business planning or financial matters may oversee money being transferred, invested, and so on. An attorney can advise a client on where assets and funds should go, but should not mix their own funds in with the client’s.
What Should You Do to Fight Legal Malpractice?
If you have discovered that your lawyer committed legal malpractice while representing you, your next step is to file a lawsuit against that lawyer. Working with your new attorney, you will need to prepare a case that can prove the following:
The lawyer had a duty or responsibility to represent you
The attorney breached that duty through conflict of interest, negligence, etc.
The attorney’s actions or negligence caused a ruling or led to actions that caused financial damages
You suffered financial losses or damages
As hesitant as you may be to put your trust in another lawyer, this is your best bet for proving legal malpractice. This form of malpractice is pretty tricky, and a lawyer with experience representing malpractice has knowledge of the laws and procedures that will help to prove where or when a lawyer breached their duty to you.
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 15-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The Injury Law Firm of South Florida, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.
Imagine sleeping soundly in bed and then a loud crashing crane comes through your roof. It was a scene that happened this week in North Miami Beach, where a crane that was being used to repair a seawall slid off a barge and struck the roof of a condominium building. [gallery type="slideshow" link="file" size="large" [..]
Car accidents can happen anywhere. Especially where you least expect it. Parking lots, driveways, parking garages, and drive-thrus are well-known for accident scenes. Even your own living room. On Wednesday, August 21st, an accident involving two cars ended up crashing into a Miami Gardens home. One of the drivers was air lifted to a [..]
Dade and Broward county roads are about to become a bit more confusing and request drivers to be more attentive to the road and the scheduled construction plans on the 826 Palmetto Expressway and I-75 throughout August 2019, while making room for a new Express Lane on the 826 Palmetto Expressway. As auto accident attorneys [..]
July 4th tends to evoke backyard barbecues, poolside cocktails, and fireworks at dusk. We usually think of spending this holiday with family, and staying close to home. On the contrary, AAA pegs the fourth as one of their busiest days. Did you know the average distance traveled on July 4th is 617 miles? What’s more, [..]
When most of us think about Fourth of July safety, we think about fireworks. Although improper use of fireworks can cause serious injuries, there’s a less obvious risk: food poisoning. Most Fourth of July celebrations involve outdoor gatherings, with perishable food that’s often brought in by a number of people, some of whom may not [..]
Summer is upon us, and it’s peak swimming pool season in the sunshine state. Although swimming is a great way to cool off and get some exercise, it can also be dangerous. Statistics show three children die every day from swimming pool accidents, and many more people sustain serious injuries. In many cases, these tragic [..]
Memorial Day offers a time to celebrate loved ones lost. It also signals the beginning of another Florida summer which often means road trip! In either case, we all find a reason and a way to cut loose. Unfortunately, these celebrations also lead to an uptick in car accidents. The primary causes? More cars on [..]
Johnson & Johnson has been a trusted name in cosmetics and household products for decades. However, in recent years, they have come under fire for lawsuits that suggest their talcum powder products caused cancer. The company isn’t just paying with a blow to their reputation, either. Earlier this year, a woman in California won $29 [..]
Every summer, Floridians look forward to that much needed break that summer camp provides: the kids to get away from the daily grind of the school year, and you to get a little breathing room from them. Exactly how much of a break would it be, though, if you’re still holding your breath in anticipation [..]
Temperatures are rising and a lot of long weekends are just around the corner. Whether you’re planning to hop in your boat for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or other summer holidays, it’s important to stay safe this season. Boating accidents do happen here in Florida, and many can be fatal. In 2017, 658 [..]
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
Uber and Lyft have really made getting around town a lot easier. The apps are simple to use, the cars are relatively inexpensive, and getting a ride only takes a few minutes. However, as wonderful as Uber and Lyft are for convenience when you need a quick lift, it is important to remember that [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Florida’s summer is well underway, and the hot weather is a perfect excuse to get out on the water. With close to 900,000 registered vessels in the state, chances are that you or someone you know owns a boat and is planning to use it this season. Getting out on a lake or the ocean [..]
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]