Florida recognizes a right to seek damages resulting from a breach of an attorneys’ standard of care when handling a legal matter for a client. The basis of such a claim is not merely that the client is not satisfied, but that the work undertaken by their counsel was not done according to the standards in the industry . If such a case exists, the client would be entitled to recover the difference between what they would have been legally entitled to receive in their case, plus any consequential damages.
A cause of action for legal malpractice has three elements:
- Attorney’s employment;
- Attorney’s neglect of reasonable duty; and
- Loss to client as proximate result of attorney’s negligence.
Lack of knowledge of or compliance with prescribed rules of practice and procedure is dereliction of professional responsibility not easily excused, which may subject negligent attorney to liability for damages to client, as well as disciplinary proceedings. Client cannot be found to be comparatively negligent in legal malpractice action for relying on an attorney’s erroneous legal advice or for failing to correct errors of the attorney, which involve the exercise of professional expertise.
The vast majority of legal malpractice claims are associated with the lawyer’s express failure to observe rules due to their own inattention or failure to properly manage their legal practice. A failure to file a lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations, for example, when the attorney was provided an adequate opportunity to do so once retained by the client. As the practice of law is technical and based upon ever changing rules, lawyers are expected to maintain their practice within reasonable professional boundaries.
Most complaints and lawsuits associated with legal malpractice claims arise from poor client communication by the lawyer, who fails to respond to routine inquiries. When clients find themselves represented by a lawyer who fails to return phone calls timely, fails to provide appropriate explanations for important decisions to be made by a client, or simply shows a lack of respect, they should demand time to discuss these issues face to face.
If you have a situation concerning a legal malpractice case, contact an experienced attorney at Corless Barfield Trial Group. 877-517-5595.