Florida Legal Malpractice Attorneys & Professional Liability Litigation
Lawyers have a duty to represent clients in a competent, professional manner and preserve their trust and confidences. The 96,000 lawyers admitted to practice law in the State of Florida are each bound by a code of ethics; rules of conduct outlined and regulated by The Florida Bar.
When an attorney’s representation or services fall below that standard of care, breaches the attorney employment contract, or the client’s trust or confidences are breached, the client may have a cause of action to recover damages for the harm that results.
Lawyer malpractice cases generally arise either out of a lawyer’s negligence, breach of contract or breach of fiduciary duty . You may read one of Attorney Zobel’s Reported Legal Malpractice cases by clicking here, Young v. Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.
Negligence is at the root of many legal malpractice cases. It exists where the attorney’s acts or omissions result in harm to the client and the attorney has failed to act in conformity with the standard of care. An example would be an attorney who fails to meet a deadline or make an appearance. The failure to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires is another example. This may result in a client being harmed because the client’s legal rights have been forfeited.
When a lawyer has violated a material provision or term in the contract for representation, a legal malpractice case may be brought for breach of contract.
A lawyer breaches a fiduciary duty to the client when a conflict of interest is disregarded and/or the attorney’s own interest is put before that of their client. In this type of situation, a legal malpractice case may also be brought.
Other examples of legal malpractice include neglecting a client’s case, improperly drafting a Will, Prenuptial Agreement, Marital Settlement Agreement, Contract or other legal instrument, failing to know and correctly apply the law, or failing to adequately prepare for trial or a hearing. (See the American Bar Association’s website for additional detail on common legal malpractice claims.)
In order to successfully prosecute a claim for attorney malpractice, the following elements are required and must be proven:
- The existence of an attorney-client relationship,
- Attorney conduct that falls below the standard of care, breaches the attorney employment contract or constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty, and
- Damages or harm that was caused by the breach or misconduct
The mere fact that your lawyer was unsuccessful in representing you does not mean that legal malpractice was committed.
Certain areas of the law are more prone to malpractice than others. For example, as outlined in this 2012 Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Co. blog post, a recent American Bar Association study found that claims stemming from Personal Injury, Family Law, Corporate/Business, and Estate Probate legal matters were the most common among legal malpractice claims. Our firm has a broad range of knowledge and experience in litigating and trying most cases.
Successful pursuit of a legal malpractice claim requires a careful analysis of the underlying factual matter and knowledge of the law that it concerns. The trial of a legal malpractice case often requires that the original case be re-tried. This is often referred to as the “case within the case”. The legal malpractice case requires proof that “but for” the lawyer’s failure, a different and more favorable outcome would have been obtained for you. For that reason, you want to choose an attorney with experience in the subject area of your original claim and in the trial of legal malpractice cases.
You may contact our firm in confidence for a free initial consultation to discuss your case. There are often a range of potential options to correct legal mistakes. Disciplinary sanctions, civil suit, and in some cases criminal charges may result. We can discuss the avenue that is best suited to your circumstances.
Please call the Law Offices of Craig R. Zobel if you have sustained a significant financial injury or loss as a result of poor legal representation.