Monday, December 27, 2010

How Do I Know If I Have a Legal Malpractice Case?

Clients often wonder what that they need to establish in order to bring a legal malpractice claim against their lawyer. Is the fact that my lawyer did something wrong enough? Do I need another lawyer to say that my lawyer screwed up?

The client, or legal malpractice lawyer that the client has hired, needs to prove several things in order to bring a legal malpractice claim. First, there has to be proof that the lawyer had a duty to the client to act properly. That is easy if you are a lawyer – there was a duty to take care of you. Next, there has to be proof that the lawyer breached that duty by acting negligently. This breach can be accomplished by proving that the lawyer made a mistake that an average lawyer would not have made. In some cases it is helpful to have another lawyer provide an opinion of what the lawyer should have done in the situation; that’s our job to find a lawyer to testify if we take on a case.

There also has to be proof that the lawyer’s negligent behavior caused damage to the client. Ultimately, did the lawyer’s negligence damage the client. This is just like a car accident case; did the other diver’s negligence injure someone.

The best way for a client to determine whether or not they have the necessary elements to justify bringing a legal malpractice claim is to call one of our experienced legal malpractice attorneys and ask there is no charge for the call. We are here to help.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Settle?

Often times when an injured party initiates an action in court, they have questions about the process, especially if this is their first time trying to navigate the legal system. One of the most prevalent questions is “why should I settle my case”?

In order to answer that question, the client will look to his or her attorney for advice. Settling the case for a number that is fair is a great resolution for all parties involved. The problem arises when the attorney advises the client to settle their case for an amount that is unfair.

There are times when attorneys screw up by failing to properly value a client’s case. This sometimes occurs when the attorney improperly advises a client to settle his or her case for an amount that is much lower than what the case is worth. Other times it occurs when the attorney fails to advise a client to settle for a reasonable amount and the client ends up with a verdict or settlement much lower in the future.

Although results are not guaranteed, attorneys do owe their clients appropriate advice regarding what is or is not a proper resolution for their case. The failure to provide a client with appropriate advice is malpractice and the injured party should be compensated by the attorney who screwed up.

Each case is different regarding the time it takes to settle. Your attorney should be working with you during the settlement process and advising you of your options. If your attorney is pressuring you to settle your case for an amount that is too low or too early on in the process, get another opinion on the value, get another lawyer or contact our office today to discuss your potential legal malpractice options.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reasonable Attorneys Fees

When a client meets with an attorney to initiate a legal action, there are many topics that are discussed during the initial consultation. One of the topics that often stands out to the client is the discussion of attorney’s fees. Each office has a different system in which they bill for attorney and legal staff time while pursuing the action.

Sometimes attorneys charge for their time on a contingency fee basis. This means the attorney does not bill the client for their time hourly, but instead agrees to be compensated when the case has concluded for a portion of the settlement. This is often attractive to the client because he/she does not have to write a check for the attorney’s time every month and if the case is unsuccessful, the attorney will only be reimbursed for the costs incurred while pursing the action.

Some cases cannot be pursued on a contingency fee basis, such as divorce matters, the drafting of a Last Will and Testament and estate matters, to name a few. For these types of cases, attorneys will bill the client for their time and their staff’s time on an hourly basis. The client may be asked to pay the attorney a retainer to initiate the action, and then the attorney will bill the client monthly once the retainer has been depleted.

If a case settles before the attorney’s billable time uses the entire amount of the client’s retainer, then the client should be reimbursed the unused portion. If you think your attorney improperly charged you or failed to refund the unused portion of your retainer, call us, we can help you consider your legal malpractice options.