Lawyers who do not provide competent and ethical legal representation to their clients should be held accountable for the harm they cause. It is unacceptable for an attorney to miss legal deadlines, inadequately investigate a case, or have a conflict of interest in a legal matter they are handling. If you have had a poor experience with a lawyer, you are likely hesitant to work with yet another. However, if legal malpractice results in damages, you deserve to be fully compensated.
The skilled Akron legal malpractice attorneys at Slater & Zurz have successfully handled these matters for over 30 years. Most law firms choose not to take on legal malpractice cases because they can be challenging matters. However, our firm does not shy away from even the most complex legal malpractice cases because we believe everyone has the right to competent legal representation. If you feel your attorney negatively affected the outcome of your case, we urge you to contact us to arrange a free consultation. During the initial meeting, one of our experienced attorneys will discuss the issue you are facing and your rights to pursue a legal malpractice claim.
Legal Malpractice Can Cause Significant Losses
When you hire an attorney, you expect them to represent your best interests and protect your rights in a competent manner. However, in some cases, an attorney uses poor judgment or intentionally engages in unethical conduct, harming their client in the process.
Not every error rises to the level of professional malpractice. However, when certain acts or omissions are serious enough, they may constitute legal malpractice and warrant legal action. Examples of legal malpractice include:
- Failure to file documents in a timely manner
- Planning or preparation errors
- Missed deadlines
- Improperly understanding or applying the law
- Taking certain actions without a client’s consent
- Engaging in fraud
- Lost or mishandled evidence
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Inadequate investigation or discovery
- Slander or libel against a client
- Losing documents or files
- Having a conflict of interest
- Committing civil rights violations
Missed Deadlines and Legal Malpractice
It is not uncommon for lawyers to take on more cases than they can handle. This is often unintentional as they take a case without fully anticipating the amount of work it will actually require. With an overwhelming caseload, they may miss a crucial legal deadline. Common types of missed deadlines that can lead to a legal malpractice action include:
Statute of limitations – Many legal malpractice cases involve a missed deadline for filing a lawsuit. A statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time a plaintiff has to take legal action. If your attorney misses this time limitation, you will generally lose your right to seek compensation.
Summary judgment response – A summary judgment is a motion by one party asking the court to issue a ruling on a case before it goes to trial. Their purpose is to simplify a trial or avoid an unnecessary one. When the other party files a motion for a summary judgment, your attorney must respond within a certain amount of time. Failure to do so may result in the court granting the other party’s motion, denying you your right to a trial.
Contesting a will – When a person dies and an interested party, such as disinherited family member, wishes to challenge the terms of the will, they must do so within a certain amount of time. Failing to contest a will on time may ban the interested party from obtaining what they would have otherwise received.
Filing an appeal – When a party seeks to appeal an unfavorable judgment or specific court orders, their attorney must file a notice of appeal within a certain amount of time. For example, in Summit County, Ohio, an appeal must be filed within 30 days of the judgment. When it is not filed in time, the party loses their right to an appeal and the court’s decision is final.
Proving a Legal Malpractice Claim
If your lawyer made serious errors while handling your case, you might choose to pursue legal action against them. However, these cases are generally some of the most challenging. You can’t prevail simply by showing your lawyer lost your case. You must prove your lawyer did not act with the same skill or care that other attorneys would have used in handling a similar legal matter.
In a legal malpractice case, the plaintiff must prove four elements.
- Duty – There was an attorney-client relationship.
- Breach – The attorney breached their duty of care.
- Causation – The attorney’s breach of care caused the plaintiff harm.
- Damages – The plaintiff suffered losses.
Recovering Damages in an Ohio Legal Malpractice Lawsuit
Available damages in a legal malpractice case are dependent on what happened in the original legal matter, or the one the attorney is accused of mishandling. Typically, the damages a plaintiff may receive are based on what was lost as a result of their attorney’s negligence.
Compensatory Damages – If you would have received compensatory damages, such as medical expenses or property damage, but your attorney’s actions caused you to lose the suit, you may be able to be compensated for those damages. If you were a defendant in a lawsuit, and because of your attorney’s actions, lost the suit and had to pay damages, you may be entitled to be reimbursed for the amount you paid.
Legal fees and other expenses – You may be awarded compensation for the legal fees and other expenses you had to pay in order to correct the problems caused by the negligent attorney.
The market value of the lost property – If legal malpractice caused you to lose property, you might also be able to recover the fair market value of that lost property.
Punitive damages – In some jurisdictions, you may be able to recover the punitive damages you would have won in your original case.
Our Akron Legal Malpractice Lawyers Can Help
When other lawyers get it wrong, we are here to help. Legal malpractice cases take skilled and assertive legal representation. Our attorneys know what it takes to obtain a favorable outcome in these cases and are more than willing to hold other attorneys accountable for their actions.
If you have suffered losses due to legal malpractice, contact our Akron legal malpractice attorneys today. Your initial consultation is free, and there is absolutely no obligation to hire our firm. During your free case review, one of our seasoned attorneys will discuss your situation and determine if you may have grounds for legal action. If you do, we will work diligently to build a compelling case and aggressively advocate on your behalf to get you the best possible resolution. You can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling (330)762-0700 or filling out our online form.