Friday, July 31, 2009

What is Connecticut Legal Malpractice?

Not everyone is clear as to what constitutes legal malpractice in Connecticut, but we can help. In Connecticut, legal malpractice has been defined as the failure to “exercise that degree of skill and learning commonly applied under all the circumstances in the community by the average prudent reputable member of the profession...result[ing in] injury, loss, or damage to the [client]” Davis v. Margolis, 215 Conn. 408, 415, 576 A.2d 489 (1990).

Some of the complaints that may lead to a legal malpractice lawsuit in Connecticut include: mishandling client funds, incompetence or inexperience, missing a statute of limitation, missing another important court deadline that has a negative impact on the case, failing to properly advise a client about their options, failing to properly gather the proper evidence needed to present a comprehensive case, failing to prosecute a case and having it dismissed and conflicts of interest between lawyer and client that go unaddressed.

All of the above are examples of a lawyer acting negligently in failing to exercise the “degree of skill and learning commonly applied” by the “average prudent reputable” lawyer. Id. If the client can prove damages as a result of this negligence they may have grounds for pursuing a Connecticut legal malpractice law suit.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Badly Drafted Documents: Two Deleted Paragraphs Cost Law Firm $150 Million

Poorly drafted documents by a Connecticut attorney can sometimes be the source of significant liability for clients. We can help with issues associated with the improper handling of important legal documents. Poorly drafted language may provide insufficient compensation for a breach of contract. Additionally, if contractual language is not carefully selected it may unintentionally provide a contract party with a way to void the entire contract. Badly drafted documents by Connecticut lawyers can end up costing clients a lot of money.

For example, recently a law firm was representing a company looking to enter the national cable market. The law firm was charged with the duty of drafting and reviewing the contracts for the transaction. An associate of the law firm accidentally deleted two paragraphs from the transaction document which ended up costing the company millions of dollars. The company sued the law firm for legal malpractice and the firm settled the lawsuit for $150 million. The National Law Journal reports the entire story here.

That’s 150 million reasons for lawyers to make sure they are properly drafting their client’s important documents. If you need help with drafting important transactional documents or if your Connecticut lawyer’s badly drafted documents have cost you money, we can help.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Failing to Properly Investigate & Perform Discovery: Value of Eric Clapton Guitar Leads to Legal Malpractice Suit

When lawyers fail to properly investigate or perform discovery on a matter the consequences can be devastating to a client’s legal and financial position. Legal malpractice in divorce cases is not uncommon. This can happen when a lawyer ignores or overlooks a witness who has knowledge that might have helped the client’s case. Another example is a situation where your attorney fails to follow up on discovery information obtained from opposing counsel during a substantial divorce case.

For example, one New York court recently denied a motion to dismiss by an attorney being sued for insufficiently investigating a husband’s assets. The plaintiff-wife believed that the attorney’s failure to retain a forensic accountant and his subsequent acquiescence to the husband’s valuations of the assets caused her to be short-changed in the equitable distribution of marital assets. Included in the assets the wife alleged she was short-changed on, was a very valuable Eric Clapton guitar that may have been undervalued to the extent of $300,000; a very costly error by the attorney. These attorney mistakes occur all the time and we can help if it has happened to you. When Connecticut lawyers fail to properly investigate or perform discovery on cases our legal malpractice attorneys can help.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Improper Settlement May Cost You

Times have changed and improper settlement is a prime example of the kind of legal malpractice that we can help you with. Lawyers have an obligation to inform their clients of all opportunities to settle a matter. Often, lawyers will refrain from informing a client of settlement opportunities because it may not be in the attorney’s best interest. Reasons for this may be that the lawyer has invested a great deal of time in the case and now fears that she would not be adequately compensated from a minimal settlement. This ends up in a client being uninformed and leads to a case being forced forward.

This is impermissible attorney misconduct. Attorney’s have a duty to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own. There are a variety of situations in which settlements could work to your disadvantage including:

-Settling your case without your knowledge or authorization of settlement
-Settling your case prematurely when it is not in your best interest
-Forcing you to settle against your judgment and wishes
-Failing to inform you of important developments in your case that may affect settlement
-Getting your case to cover up a mistake by your lawyer

Many times lawyers may know that they have mishandled your case and committed malpractice, but they wish to resolve it quickly in the hopes that your case will just go away. Some lawyers will go so far as to write letter after letter to the client, telling them how bad their case is, and try to force them into an inadequate resolution. They may even go so far as to accept a settlement offer on the client’s behalf without the clients’ authorization to do so. If your attorney has handled your case improperly or failed to inform you of a settlement offer we can help.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Economic Downturn: Will Lawyers Pay The Price?

Experts are predicting that the current economic downturn will lead to a nationwide increase in the number of legal malpractice suits. This includes legal malpractice by Connecticut attorneys. The main theory is that lawyers who are feeling the bite of the economic recession will begin to take on work outside their normal core practice areas. Areas, that in the past, they typically would have referred to a lawyer with more specialized knowledge in that area of law.

Unfortunately, when lawyers take on cases that are outside of their normal skill set, the chances that they will miss a deadline or screw up something else skyrockets. The result is that clients get harmed, but we can help. The message that needs to be taken from this is that now, more than ever, it’s important for clients and attorneys to make sure that cases are handled by lawyers that are knowledgeable in the particular area of law involved in the case.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Protect Yourself From People Behaving Badly: One Lawyer's Philosophy On Legal Malpractice

A lawyer once asked me - how can you sue other lawyers, isn't it like eating your own? My response is simple - our system works to make the medical profession better by holding doctors responsible for their actions and to provide for compensation to victims damaged by the negligence of a doctor. It must do the same for individuals damaged by lawyers. It is simple - victims of a lawyer’s malpractice, where a lawyer screwed up, also deserve and are entitled to compensation for their damages. Lawyers behaving badly, just like anyone else, need to understand that they are not immune from compensating the victim. We Can Help!

This is just an intro on my philosophy about Malpractice – 100’s of years ago it was considered revolutionary to allow people to seek damages from each other for injuries caused by negligence. This was both to foster a sense of justice, but also to avoid literal attempts at self help - an eye for an eye. Today when someone is negligent, which is nothing more than the failure to act as others would or should in the same situation, our courts provide for a shifting of the burden of the injuries from the person who negligently caused the injury to the injured person - or family of - the injured person. This applies whether it is a simple automobile crash or the malpractice of a professional such as a lawyer, doctor, architect or an accountant. We sue these professionals on behalf of our clients. Through this Blog I hope you will both better understand what it is that we do when we sue doctors, lawyers or other professionals who have behaved badly, but also that you may find a way to avoid this very same thing from happening to you or someone you love.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lawyers Really Screw Up – Missing Deadlines

Almost 20% of malpractice claims against lawyers are because they blew a deadline, otherwise known as a statute of limitation. A statute of limitation is a law that provides for a time period that, once past, forever bars someone from pursuing a particular legal claim. Missing a statute of limitation can compromise a client’s entire case and lead to serious legal and financial consequences.

If you’ve been victimized by the negligence or incompetence of a lawyer who wasted time suing the wrong defendant, or filed the wrong claim, we can help. Our legal malpractice attorneys hold other lawyers accountable because many of these attorney errors could have been avoided. These mistakes cost clients money and are frequently grounds for a legal malpractice action. In this day and age of computers and sophisticated diary programs lawyers should not be missing deadlines but when they do, we can help by filing a legal malpractice lawsuit against your former attorney.

Holding Lawyers Accountable: Connecticut Legal Malpractice Attorneys

Most people know that lawyers can sue doctors, nurses, accountants, engineers and other professionals for damages and deaths that they’ve caused through what lawyers and judges call deviating from the standard of care. However, times have changed, and malpractice
law now includes a growing variety of negligent or unethical behaviors by lawyers. Our attorneys have a wealth of experience handling all types of legal malpractice matters.

Connecticut lawyers are licensed and sworn to provide competent, diligent and honest representation to their clients. As lawyers, we have a fiduciary duty to always represent our client’s best interests. When Connecticut lawyers fail to properly represent their client’s interests, we can help.

The experienced attorneys at Stanger & Arnold, LLP have provided skilled legal malpractice representation for clients throughout Connecticut. Contact our firm today to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorney negligence lawyers.