My Ocala Personal Injury Attorney Screwed Up My Case…What Are My Rights?
Accident victims might have heard horror stories about how some injury lawyers screw up cases. That fact alone can convince an injured victim to try to deal with the insurance company directly.
The good news is that there are few valid legal malpractice claims filed in Florida. However, that does not mean attorneys cannot make mistakes. Knowing the difference between mistakes and malpractice can be challenging, but we can help.
What Are Your Rights As a Personal Injury Client?
The first step is to understand your rights as a client. Knowing your rights can help you spot instances that could lead to a legal malpractice case.
As a client, you have the right to expect the following from your personal injury lawyer:
- Provide sound legal advice based on their experience handling your type of case, current statutes, and relevant case law
- Provide an honest assessment of your personal injury case and your legal options
- Explain the basis for forming their legal opinion
- Inform you of the progress of your case, including all settlement offers, delays, setbacks, or changes in the case
- Discuss all offers to settle your claim, including explaining the benefits and disadvantages of accepting specific offers
- Prepare and explain a cost-benefit analysis of accepting a settlement versus going to court
- Allow you to make decisions regarding the direction of your case after offering you legal advice and guidance
- Provide sufficient information during each phase of your case for you to make informed decisions
- Take the necessary steps to protect your best interests and advance your case
- Filing a lawsuit and engaging in trial preparation, if that is the option you choose
Lawyers cannot guarantee outcomes in a personal injury case. However, they should commit to providing the best possible legal representation. They should have sufficient legal training and experience to handle your case and understand the legal issues related to your injury claim.
Proving Your Personal Injury Lawyer Is Liable for Legal Malpractice
Lawyers do not have control over every aspect of a case. Losing a personal injury case is not sufficient to prove legal malpractice. An accident lawyer can present a nearly flawless case to a jury, but the jury can still find in favor of the other party.
If you expect to win a legal malpractice claim, you must prove more than you were unhappy with your personal injury case results. You must prove the legal elements to establish a malpractice claim.
Malpractice is the failure of a professional to execute their duty to their client. The duty typically requires the attorney to follow accepted professional standards.
The requirements for a legal malpractice claim are:
Duty of Care
Once that relationship exists, the lawyer owes you a duty of care to provide legal services that meet the accepted professional standards. The attorney has a duty to act in your best interest and use reasonable care when handling your legal matter.
Breach of Duty
An attorney breaches the duty of care when they fail to provide legal services that meet or exceed professional standards. A breach of duty might result if the lawyer breaks the law, breaches their fiduciary duty, or is incompetent or dishonest.
You must prove that your lawyer’s actions or omissions directly and proximately caused you harm. In addition, the harm must be identifiable, such as your case being dismissed because the attorney failed to appear for a scheduled hearing.
You must have sustained monetary losses because of the personal injury lawyer’s breach of duty. For example, the lawyer failed to include lost wages and medical bills in your personal injury settlement. As a result, you were responsible for those amounts.
What Are Examples of Legal Malpractice in Florida?
Lawyers may engage in numerous activities that could lead to allegations of legal malpractice. In many cases, the lawyer’s conduct was negligent, intentional, fraudulent, criminal, or deceitful.
Examples of situations and circumstances that could lead to a legal malpractice claim include, but are not limited to:
- Failing to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires
- Violating the attorney-client privilege by disclosing confidential and privileged client information
- Failure to present all settlement offers to the client for consideration
- Not checking for a conflict of interest before accepting a case
- Failing to attend court hearings or file documents and information by court deadlines
- Mishandling a client’s funds being held in a law firm trust account
- Committing fraud or other criminal acts
- Incorrectly applying statutes and case law to a client’s case
- Accepting a personal injury settlement offer without the client’s consent
- Intentionally misleading or lying to a client about their case or the law
You can fire your lawyer and hire a personal injury lawyer at another firm to handle your case. Whether you have a lawsuit for legal malpractice depends on the facts of your case. If you have a case for legal malpractice, you could be entitled to damages.
However, you need an experienced lawyer to help you pursue a legal malpractice claim. You need strong evidence proving that the lawyer’s conduct breached the duty of care. Malpractice claims are some of the most challenging types of civil cases to prove and win.
What Should You Do If You Believe Your Personal Injury Lawyer Screwed Up Your Case?
Try to remain calm and resist the urge to yell at or confront the lawyer. Instead, request a copy of your entire file. The lawyer might not release their personal notes, but you should receive copies of everything else in the file.
In as much detail as possible, write down why you believe your lawyer committed malpractice. Try to include specific and precise details of the lawyer’s conduct as examples. In addition, make copies of any correspondence or documentation the lawyer gave you or sent to you by email or other messaging formats.
Contact another personal injury lawyer to review your case as soon as possible. The lawyer might refer you to a legal malpractice attorney for further direction and advice.
Contact Our Ocala Personal Injury Lawyers for Help If Another Attorney Screwed Up Your Case
Our lawyers at Allen Law Firm, P.A. are dedicated to helping accident victims get the money they deserve. Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Ocala personal injury attorney at (352) 351-3258. Let us show you why our personal injury law firm differs from other law firms in Florida.