Charleston Legal Malpractice Attorney
What is Legal Malpractice?
Although plenty of people are familiar with the concept of medical malpractice, not as many people are aware that legal malpractice also exists. Unfortunately, this type of malpractice can have even more disastrous effects on your livelihood, as an attorney’s negligence can lead to serious and long-lasting consequences. It’s for this reason that finding a trusted West Virginia legal malpractice firm is so important. In order to help you identify legal malpractice, and understand the steps to dealing with it, we’ve decided to outline some of its most basic components.
What is Attorney Malpractice?
For malpractice to apply to an attorney, it’s necessary to prove negligence. Similar to medical malpractice, attorney malpractice involves highlighting several key points. For someone to prove that malpractice has taken place, they must show that the attorney was negligent in their actions, or otherwise broke a contract, and took actions that went beyond the scope of an error. In committing this negligence, the attorney’s actions must then be proven to have harmed the injured party.
When proving negligence, it’s necessary to show that the attorney made decisions or acted in a manner in which a normally prudent attorney would have acted or would not have acted. This is intended to protect attorneys from being sued for malpractice simply because they lost a cause or committed a simple error. Instead, negligence must be demonstrated to have gone beyond this point into territory that constitutes harm. In fact, proving negligence is not enough in many cases. The injured party must also show that the harm led to an outcome outside of normal expectations. If the outcome was unaffected by the attorney’s negligence, then malpractice is irrelevant.
These elements of proof provide basic safeguards to the attorney, but also serve to make legal malpractice cases much more difficult to prove for the client. If they believe that malpractice has taken place, they must prove causation much more effectively than in other case types. It’s for this reason that having a knowledgeable West Virginia legal malpractice attorney is so highly recommended. They understand the nuances of this case type better than anyone else.
The elements of proof can be problematic even in a clear case where the attorney missed the statute of limitations (the time limit in which a case needs to be filed). In many jurisdictions in order to be successful in such a case it must proven that an attorney client relationship existed between the client and offending attorney, that the attorney did something or failed to do something that a normally prudent attorney would do and that if the attorney had acted as a reasonable attorney the client was likely to have prevailed in their original case. So really legal malpractice cases are a case within a case.
Of course, there are other types of malpractice suits. Some include when an attorney breaches their contract by not doing something they promised the client they would do, or if an attorney acts in his own self interest, instead of the interests of the client or if the attorney does not meet deadlines established during the case or fails to follow the rules of procedure or evidence, leading to an adverse result.
What to Expect from a Malpractice Case
Attorneys that represent a client in a malpractice case typically don’t get paid unless they win. This reduces any financial risk for the client and ensures that their representation only has their best interests in mind. Although communication is always recommended in dealing with an attorney you suspect of malpractice, sometimes the only option is to find a knowledgeable attorney and move ahead with a suit.
In the case of winning a malpractice suit, the damages awarded to the injured party can vary wildly, depending on the extent of the damage, as well as depending on the precise nature of the attorney’s malpractice. If they were caught mismanaging a client’s money, for example, then many states have regulations in place to award back that money to the client, in addition to any other legal fees.
The most important thing to remember with malpractice suits is that, despite being difficult to prove, they can be an effective tool for getting you the justice you deserve. Everyone deserves a fair chance in court, and you should not be punished because of an attorney’s negligent actions. If you think your attorney might not have put their full effort into representing you, then it might time to seek the services of someone that will.