Legal malpractice is an attorney or lawyer’s professional negligence or misconduct when representing a client. It occurs when an attorney fails to provide competent and diligent legal services, which leads to harm or financial loss for the client.
Attorneys are held to a high standard of care when representing their clients. If an attorney fails to meet this standard and their negligence causes their client to suffer damages, the client may be able to sue for legal malpractice.
This guide can help you explore the key aspects of legal malpractice laws in Miami, as explained by our legal malpractice lawyer.
What Qualifies as Legal Malpractice?
Qualifying factors for legal malpractice typically include:
Breach of Duty: The attorney must have breached their duty of care to the client. This means the attorney failed to provide competent and diligent representation.
Negligence or Misconduct: The attorney’s actions or omissions must have been negligent or constituted professional misconduct. Examples include missing deadlines, failing to conduct adequate research, providing incorrect legal advice, or violating ethical rules.
Causation: It must be demonstrated that the attorney’s negligence or misconduct directly caused harm or financial loss to the client. The client must show that had the attorney not been negligent, they would have had a more favorable outcome in their legal matter.
Damages: Legal malpractice claims require the plaintiff to prove actual damages. These damages can include financial losses incurred due to the attorney’s negligence, such as the cost of a settlement, judgment, or legal fees that would not have been necessary but for the attorney’s actions or omissions.
Client-Attorney Relationship: A valid attorney-client relationship must be in place for a legal malpractice claim to be pursued. The client must have hired an attorney for legal representation.
Statute of Limitations: Legal malpractice claims are subject to a time limit known as statutes of limitations, which sets the maximum time duration within which a claim must be filed. In Florida, the time frame for a legal malpractice case is two years from the time the client became aware or should have become aware that malpractice has been committed.
Examples of situations that may qualify as legal malpractice include:
- Failing to file important documents or lawsuits within the statute of limitations.
- Providing incorrect legal advice that leads to financial losses for the client.
- Conflict of interest issues, where the attorney’s interests interfere with their duty to the client.
- Mishandling client funds or property.
- Failing to communicate important information to the client.
- Violating ethical rules or professional standards.
- Providing substandard representation in court or during negotiations.
Settlements and Remedies: Legal malpractice cases can be resolved through settlements or litigation. Remedies may include compensation for the client’s financial losses, reimbursement of legal fees, or, in some cases, punitive damages.
Disciplinary Actions: In addition to civil liability, attorneys who engage in unethical or negligent conduct may also face disciplinary actions by the Florida Bar Association, which could result in sanctions or disbarment.
Legal Malpractice Insurance: Many attorneys in Miami carry professional liability insurance to protect themselves against legal malpractice claims. This insurance can play an important role in compensating clients for their losses.
Contact Our Legal Malpractice Lawyer in Miami
It’s important to note that not every mistake an attorney makes qualifies as legal malpractice. Attorneys are not expected to be infallible, and some error is inevitable in law practice. To succeed in a legal malpractice claim, the client must show that the attorney’s conduct fell below the standard of care expected in the legal profession and that this conduct directly resulted in harm or financial loss. Legal malpractice cases can be complex, and they often require the involvement of a legal malpractice lawyer experienced in handling such claims.
If you believe you have a legal malpractice case in Miami and need legal assistance, contact Criden & Love’s legal malpractice lawyers in Miami. We have years of experience handling legal malpractice cases and can provide you with guidance and representation to help you get justice. Contact us today.