Common Examples of Legal Malpractice Claims [2024 Updated]

Common Examples of Legal Malpractice Claims [2024 Updated]

Examples of Common Legal Malpractice Claims

Legal malpractice takes many forms, including failing to communicate with a client, missing deadlines, and committing fraud. Many of these mistakes can have consequences for a client and their case. They can cause emotional distress, huge financial losses, and even a complete loss of legal rights.

Anyone with a lawyer or looking to hire a lawyer should be aware of common examples of legal malpractice claims so that they can take action if they are ever in a position where their lawyer is being negligent.

There are several reasons someone would file a legal malpractice claim against their attorney. A simple mistake is not enough to file a malpractice claim; a mistake becomes enough for a claim if the client suffers damages as a result. Here are some examples of legal malpractice claims that are, unfortunately, more common than you might think:

  • Missed Deadlines. The most important deadline in the legal world is the statute of limitations. A missed deadline to file a claim could get your case automatically dismissed and cause you to lose out on getting the compensation you are seeking. A lawyer who waits too long to file the paperwork for their client’s claim can be held liable for legal malpractice.
  • Misusing Funds. Often, a lawyer will require their client to pay a retainer fee before any legal services are rendered. This is the upfront cost for all the services. This retainer fee is meant to go towards the cost of initiating your claim and any subsequent work. When a lawyer uses their client’s retainer funds for personal matters, that client may be able to file a legal malpractice claim against them.
  • Errors of Law and Strategy. It is important for a lawyer to understand the laws and procedures as they apply to their client’s unique case and how to apply the laws to benefit their client and their interests. A lawyer who cannot determine a legal strategy that could benefit their client has failed to provide competent representation. The lawyer can have a claim brought against them if their incompetence causes their client to lose the case.
  • Conflicts of Interest. A conflict of interest arises when an attorney represents different clients who have opposing interests without informing either client. This practice is not typically advised, even when both clients are aware, because of the potential issues that could arise. It is possible that the attorney would not be able to effectively represent both clients’ interests or provide both with the time and attention they deserve. This kind of negligence can lead to a malpractice claim against the attorney, especially if a client’s case suffers as a result.
  • Failing to Communicate With a Client – A failure to communicate with a client does not always warrant a legal malpractice claim, but it is definitely one of the bigger reasons clients file malpractice claims. A lawyer has an obligation to communicate with their client regarding every aspect of their case, even if they are just waiting for something to happen. If there is no legitimate reason for lack of communication, and this causes the client a great loss, the client may be successful in pursuing a malpractice claim.
  • Breach of Confidentiality. Lawyers have a duty to keep what their clients tell them to themselves. They cannot share any information with opposing counsel or anyone else unless given permission by their client. The only time a lawyer can share client information is when it falls under preexisting reasons to break confidentiality, such as potential harm to another person. Otherwise, the client can bring a malpractice claim against the lawyer for sharing confidential information.
  • Fraud. Two of the most important duties of care a lawyer has to their client is to have integrity and be honest in their representation of the client. A lawyer who intentionally gives their client information that is not true or chooses not to disclose information that is important to their case can be sued for negligence.

Legal Malpractice Claims FAQs

Q. How Do You Win a Legal Malpractice Case?

A. You win a legal malpractice case by first proving that a client/ attorney relationship existed, then by proving that your former lawyer was negligent, and finally by showing that negligence caused whatever harm you suffered. If you lost your case because of something your former lawyer did, you must show that you would have won the case if it hadn’t been for that lawyer’s mistake. The most effective way to do this is by hiring an experienced lawyer to assist you.

Q. What Is the Most Common Legal Malpractice Claim?

A. One of the most common legal malpractice claims is a failure to meet important deadlines. This could be filing important paperwork too late or missing the statute of limitations to file a claim. Either way, this kind of mistake can hurt someone’s case tremendously, even making it so they lose the legal right to file their claim at all.

Q. Can I Get Compensation From a Legal Malpractice Case?

A. Yes, you can get compensation from a legal malpractice case. The type of compensation and how much depends completely on the factors of your case. It is possible to receive compensation in the form of the money you would have won had your lawyer not been negligent. You could also potentially get repayment of all the legal fees you paid your former lawyer, as well as the legal fees you paid your new lawyer. Details about compensation should be discussed with your lawyer.

Q. Are All Mistakes Made by a Lawyer Considered Malpractice?

A. No, all mistakes made by a lawyer are not considered malpractice. It is not uncommon for a lawyer to make a mistake that another competent attorney would reasonably make. Mistakes become malpractice when a lawyer is negligent or purposely mishandles a case to cause damages or harm to their client.

Experienced Legal Malpractice Attorney

If you have recently had an experience with a negligent lawyer, contact the Tatum Law Firm, PLLC as soon as you can. With our knowledge and experience in legal malpractice, we can carefully look over the details of your case and determine the next steps for you to take. Our team is ready to help and answer any questions you may have about the process.

Legal Malpractice Resources