November 12, 2022 | Personal Injury
Were you injured in a slip and fall, a car accident, or another personal injury situation? An accident or injury can cause you to experience severe pain and suffering. You might also incur lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses.
Under Oklahoma tort laws, you can pursue a claim for damages against the party who caused your injury. If so, you might have hired an Edmond personal injury lawyer to handle your case. Personal injury attorneys file insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits seeking compensation for their clients.
However, what happens if your personal injury lawyer screws up your case? Can you sue your lawyer if their actions caused you to lose your case or receive less money than your case is worth?
What Is Legal Malpractice?
Malpractice occurs when a professional breaches the duty of care owed to a client by failing to follow generally accepted professional standards.
Attorneys are held to a specific standard. They have a duty to represent their clients in a manner consistent with accepted legal practices. Legal malpractice is when a lawyer breaches their duty of care, and the breach results in harm to their client.
Examples of Legal Malpractice in Edmond, OK
Attorneys cannot guarantee results in a case. An Edmond personal injury lawyer can provide the best possible representation for a client and still not recover as much money as the client believes they deserve. Therefore, a poor outcome in your case does not necessarily mean that your lawyer committed legal malpractice.
Your lawyer must have engaged in some type of behavior that violated their ethical obligations, fiduciary duty, or standards of practice.
Examples of situations and behavior that could result in a legal malpractice claim include:
- Failing to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expired
- Not checking to ensure that the lawyer does not have a conflict of interest before accepting a personal injury case
- Intentionally misleading a client
- Failing to conduct an adequate investigation of the claim
- Mishandling funds paid to the lawyer to be held in trust for the client
- Committing fraud
- Violating the attorney-client privilege by disclosing privileged information
- Failing to attend court hearings, file required court documents, or meet court deadlines
- Not presenting all settlement offers to a client for consideration
- Failing to obtain the client’s consent before accepting a personal injury settlement on behalf of the client
- Incorrectly applying the law or statutes in the client’s case
- Failing to research relevant case law and statutes
Proving a legal malpractice case can be challenging. You have the burden of proving each element of a legal malpractice claim.
What Do You Have To Prove To Win a Legal Malpractice Claim?
There are specific legal elements you must prove to hold your attorney liable for damages caused by legal malpractice. The elements of a legal malpractice case are:
The attorney does not owe you a duty of care unless there is an attorney-client relationship. The relationship establishes the duty to act with a specific level of care. Signing a retainer agreement, paying the lawyer a fee, or the lawyer representing you in a matter creates the relationship.
Legal Duty of Care
Once you have an attorney-client relationship with the lawyer, the lawyer has a duty to act in your best interest. The attorney must use reasonable care when handling your case.
Breach of Duty
Proving the lawyer breached the duty of care can be difficult. You must show that the lawyer’s conduct failed to meet a specific standard of care.
Being dishonest and incompetent could be a breach of duty. Violating the Code of Professional Standards could be a breach of duty. Providing inadequate legal services based on what another lawyer would have done in the same situation might be considered a breach of duty.
You must show that the lawyer’s conduct directly and proximately caused your harm. In addition, the harm must be identifiable, such as if you received a lower settlement amount or lost the right to file a lawsuit.
Winning a legal malpractice lawsuit requires you to prove that you sustained financial damages because of the attorney’s malpractice.
Your Actions Could Impact a Legal Malpractice Claim
Your lawyer might allege that your actions caused you to lose your personal injury case.
For example, your Edmond personal injury lawyer might argue that you:
- Lied to them about your case or the extent of your injuries
- Refused to follow your doctor’s treatment plan, which resulted in allegations of failure to mitigate damages
- Failed to provide them with requested information and documentation
- Did not adequately communicate with them
- Intentionally concealed a prior accident or pre-existing condition
An attorney might argue that your actions caused you harm and were the primary reason your case did not end favorably. You might not win a legal malpractice claim if that is the case.
You can avoid being the victim of legal malpractice by hiring an Edmond personal injury attorney with substantial experience handling injury claims. In addition, the attorney should have a positive reputation and success record.
Contact the Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyers at McGuire Law Firm Today for Free Consultation
We serve throughout Oklahoma and its surrounding areas: