Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Does a Legal Malpractice Claim Mean the Attorney is a Bad Attorney?

A question sometimes contemplated by clients, especially after they learn their current attorney has been successfully sued for legal malpractice, is “should I get a new attorney?” The truth is, sometimes even the best, brightest and most well-meaning attorneys or their staff make mistakes that can cost their client a case. That does not mean that they are serial offenders, it may have been a one-time occurrence which they have learned from and not repeated. The only way, as a client, to determine whether or not you should remain with your current attorney, despite a finding of legal malpractice against them, is to determine whether they are diligently and competently handling your case. Just as in considering the advice of a doctor, it does not hurt to get a second opinion.

Everyone makes mistakes and that is why attorneys, like doctors, carry malpractice insurance, in the event that they make a mistake. Just because a mistake was made on another client’s file that amounted to a legal malpractice suit against the attorney, does not mean that you can expect the same thing to happen to your case. However, ultimately the decision of whether a client chooses to stay with his/her current attorney is up to the client. Give us a call if you think we can help.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Legal Malpractice in Divorce Actions

When a person is making the difficult decision of whether or not they should file for a divorce from their spouse, they often seek legal advice from a lawyer. The lawyer is trained in the complex issues and is expected to give good advice. They look to the lawyer to provide guidance and protect their interests during a time when they might not be thinking as clearly and level headed as they normally do. If the lawyer does not fulfill her responsibilities to the client then the lawyer should pay damages to the client.

If, for example, the lawyer fails to file the appropriate motions in Court to help the client pursue an order for alimony or child support on modification and the client is unable to have the order be retroactive the lawyer may be liable for legal malpractice. If the client meets with a lawyer for advice about a divorce action, but that lawyer has represented the client’s spouse for other related matters in the past or at present, the lawyer may be liable for legal malpractice. If the lawyer draws up documents which result in damages to the client because they are unclear, do not cover points that they should or in some cases are simply different than the agreement they lawyer may be liable in legal malpractice. Some of these areas are very technical such as division of retirement assets, QDRO, transfer of real estate, income tax issues and questions regarding estate taxes. Your lawyer will probably not be up to speed on every issue; expect your lawyer to tell you so and to involve someone else they will recommend such as your accountant or a lawyer who specializes in a certain area such as the QDRO, in the process.

Family cases are particularly emotional times for people and they rely a great deal on the counsel provided by their lawyer. If your lawyer failed to handle your divorce action properly, call our office today to discuss your options.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Legal Malpractice in Personal Injury Actions

When a person is involved in an automobile accident and suffers injuries as a result of another party’s negligence, often times the injured person will seek advise and representation from a lawyer. If the lawyer decides to take the case, they will begin work by gathering the appropriate documentation to pursue the claim.

If the lawyer fails, for whatever reason, to file suit before the statute of limitations, the lawyer may be liable for legal malpractice. Suppose the lawyer did file suit before the statute of limitations but they failed to return the Complaint to the Court. The client’s case may be dismissed and the lawyer may be liable for legal malpractice.

Yet another example, after the lawyer files suit, returns the Complaint to Court and begins the discovery process, they determine that they filed suit against the wrong party, but the statute of limitations has passed to bring an action against the correct party. The client’s case may suffer as a result of this error and the lawyer may be liable for legal malpractice.

There is no such thing as an “easy case”. Each case deserves the time and attention necessary to bring the case to an appropriate result. If your lawyer failed to properly handle your personal injury claim, contact our office today to discuss your potential legal malpractice options.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What Happens When Your Attorney Doesn’t Follow Procedure?

Attorneys who practice in the state of Connecticut have to follow certain Rules of Practice. The Rules of Practice advise an attorney of everything from when and how to file a lawsuit to what the evidentiary requirements are during trial. When an attorney agrees to handle a case for a client, they do so with the intention of pursuing the matter in accordance with the Rules of Practice.

Sometimes an attorney will screw up, make an error, incorrectly file a document or miss a filing deadline. These may not seem like significant errors, but they have the potential of being detrimental to a client’s case. For example, if an attorney fails to file the initial lawsuit before the statue of limitations, the client’s case may be dismissed and the injured client may not be able to seek recovery for their damages. This type of an error could result in a legal malpractice claim against the attorney.

The same type of error can occur even after the initial lawsuit paperwork has been filed. Another example would be if the opposing attorney files a motion that would dismiss the case; the Rules of Practice allow a certain amount of time for the client’s attorney to file a response. If the attorney fails to file a response, or misses the filing deadline, the client’s case may be dismissed and the attorney could be liable for legal malpractice.

The Rules of Practice don’t just apply to one type of case. Attorneys have to adhere to these rules for any type of action they file. The Circus is in Town – Divorce Litigation Style is an article addressing the procedures in family cases.

These unfortunate situations do happen. If they have happened to you, we can help. Contact our office today to discuss your legal malpractice options.