After unsuccessfully going through the process of filing a personal injury suit or defending against criminal charges, the last thing you probably want to do is pick up the phone and call another lawyer. We understand this frustration – especially if you believe that your lawyer was the reason your case ended with unfavorable results.
That, however, is exactly why you need to seek out the advice of another attorney. There are all kinds of reasons that you might not have gotten the result you wanted in your case. It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes the reason is that the lawyer you hired to help you on your case committed legal malpractice by not living up to their legal responsibility to represent you to the best of their ability.
Now, legal malpractice is complicated. If you believe that your lawyer may have behaved in a professionally negligent manner, be sure to read our past blog post about the definition of legal malpractice and how it happens. If you are confident that you have a legal malpractice case on your hands, it’s time to take action.
Steps to Take Action against Legal Malpractice in Florida
Start Now. Legal malpractice isn’t always apparent, but when it comes to light, you should begin building your case and filing a claim immediately. The time limit for filing a claim for legal malpractice is not long as set down in Section 95.11, Florida Statutes:
(4) WITHIN TWO YEARS.–
(a) An action for professional malpractice, other than medical malpractice, whether founded on contract or tort; provided that the period of limitations shall run from the time the cause of action is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.
Bottom line? If you believe that you are the victim of legal malpractice, get in contact with lawyers immediately. Two years can go by faster than you think.
Collect Evidence. While you and your lawyer can go through the evidence required to prove your case, you will prove to be the best resource in collecting information and proving malpractice. Go back through all of your phone calls with your previous attorney and any documentation that he or she sent you. Review any contracts you signed.
Create a timeline of all of your consultations and actions taken by your lawyer. Often, legal malpractice is committed when a lawyer fails to meet important deadlines, because this can bring a case to a standstill or prevent a case from moving forward.
Make sure you have a list of all of your interactions, from your initial consultation to your last phone call. Every motion filed by your lawyer could help to prove legal malpractice, so it’s important to be as thorough as possible. Even phone calls that were not returned to your lawyer are important to add to your timeline of evidence.
Once you have everything together, bring this evidence to the lawyer handling your legal malpractice case.
Build Your Case – Know What It Takes to Prove Legal Malpractice. The lawyer you are filing against may have made some mistakes, but he or she still has knowledge of the law and will certainly fight back against your accusations.
It is not easy to prove that a lawyer committed legal malpractice. The more you know about how it works, the better.
Let’s review the conditions that you have to meet to prove professional malpractice:
- The attorney owed you a (How were your lawyer’s obligations recorded? What were your expectations for your lawyer, and how were those made known? What are the legal duties expected of a lawyer?)
- Through negligence or mistakes, your lawyer breached his or her duty to you. (Did your lawyer miss deadlines? Go against your contract?)
- The attorney’s breach of duty caused financial losses.
- The financial losses damaged your financial situation.
Keep these conditions in mind while you and your lawyer build your legal malpractice case.
Find a Lawyer With Experience in Legal Malpractice Suits. We know how difficult choosing a lawyer can be, especially after hiring an attorney who you now want to sue for legal malpractice.
Here’s what you need to do. Search for lawyers who have experiencing filing claims against legal and other forms of professional malpractice. Use the free consultation offered by most reputable attorneys to talk about the ins and outs of legal malpractice, and what can be done to hold your previous lawyer accountable for his or her actions. The more lawyers you talk to, the more information you can gather about the legal process and where your original lawyer went wrong, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2014-2016 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.