Just as doctors have a responsibility to their patients, lawyers have a responsibility to their clients. They are accountable for the outcome of the cases they handle and are obligated to provide their client with appropriate advice, care, and representation. When an attorney puts their interests before yours and disregards the professional duties owed to you, you may have grounds for a legal malpractice action.
At Slater & Zurz, our attorneys are relentless in our pursuit of justice. We are committed to righting the wrongs of our fellow attorneys and providing our clients with the legal resolution they deserve. If you feel the outcome of your case was negatively impacted by your attorney’s actions, we urge you to call our firm to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. With over 30 years of experience handling legal malpractice matters, we will provide you with honest feedback on whether your attorney’s actions constitute legal malpractice. If we determine you likely have a case, we will explain the process and develop an effective course of action to bring you the justice you are entitled to.
Ohio Legal Malpractice Cases
Legal malpractice cases are typically complicated matters. Victims of legal malpractice must prove the attorney mishandled their case and that their actions or inaction directly resulted in harm or other losses. This means that the client and their legal malpractice attorney must prove the four following elements of negligence:
- Duty – To bring a valid legal malpractice claim, a plaintiff will need to show there was a binding relationship between him or her and the attorney. Proof of the attorney-client relationship will establish both parties willingly entered into the agreement and that the attorney owed the client a standard of care.
- Breach – The plaintiff and their attorney will also need to show the defendant breached that duty or did not act in a manner as other attorneys would have in a similar situation.
- Causation – Once the plaintiff and their attorney show the attorney owed a duty and breached that duty, they must prove the breach of duty directly caused or contributed to harm or losses to the plaintiff.
- Damages – Lastly, the plaintiff and their legal malpractice lawyer must show the nature and extent of the damages caused by the attorney’s actions.
Examples of Legal Malpractice
Legal malpractice claims typically occur when an attorney’s professional decision, action, or inaction results in losses to his or her client. The client then seeks to recover these losses by bringing a legal malpractice action. Not every mistake constitutes professional malpractice. However, several situations often give rise to a legal malpractice case. They include:
Cases of missed deadlines in the legal profession commonly involve lawyers who fail to file necessary documents on time. Failing to file a document in a timely manner can result in significant financial losses to the client and may even lead to a case being thrown out entirely. Another common mistake related to missing essential deadlines is failing to calendar properly. This means the attorney failed to schedule an important date, such as a hearing, a deadline to submit documents, or a summary judgment response deadline.
Inadequate Investigation or Discovery
When lawyers agree to handle a case, they take on a professional responsibility to spend an appropriate time and effort investigating the elements of their client’s case. This process, commonly called “discovery,” helps the attorney put together compelling evidence supporting their client’s case. If a lawyer doesn’t put in the time and effort and misses facts or key evidence, such as failing to identify a key witness, they may face a legal malpractice action.
Lack of Consent
Attorneys are hired to represent their clients in various legal matters. This representation, however, does not mean they can make decisions for their clients. Lawyers must always have their client’s consent before taking any action, such as accepting a settlement offer. If an attorney acts at any time without the expressed written or verbal consent of their client, they might face a potential legal malpractice action.
Conflict of Interest
When an attorney puts someone else’s interests, including their own, ahead of those of their client’s, it constitutes a conflict of interest. Examples include having a personal relationship with the opposing attorney or client, failing to provide full disclosure, and representing both sides in a legal matter.
Damages in a Legal Malpractice Claim
Legal malpractice cases aim to right the wrong a client has experienced as a result of their lawyer’s negligent or intentional actions. However, the damages for the harm the attorney caused varies from case to case. In most cases, the damages are the economic difference between what the client would have received if not for the malpractice and what the client actually received. It may also be the difference between a substantial judgment against the client and the absence of a judgment if the client had won their case. Recoverable damages can also include the fees paid to the client’s original attorney to the extent the client and his or her attorney can prove the fees were for work performed negligently or that constituted a fiduciary breach (failing to act in their client’s best interests.)
Legal Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Ohio
In Ohio, there is a very small window for taking legal action in a legal malpractice claim. The state only allows a person one year to bring a file a lawsuit against a negligent lawyer. This time frame begins from the time you knew or reasonably should have known your lawyer committed malpractice or from the time your attorney stopped representing you in the legal matter in question. That is why it is essential to act quickly and consult with a Cincinnati legal malpractice attorney right away to develop an aggressive course of action to initiate a claim and fight for the justice you deserve.
Speak to a Qualified Cincinnati Legal Malpractice Attorney
Most attorneys won’t handle cases that involve suing another lawyer. But we do. We value the reputation and importance of the legal profession and demand lawyer accountability. Our Cincinnati legal malpractice lawyers take aggressive legal action against any attorney who fails to provide their client with the degree of care and skill he or she is entitled to. We fight tirelessly to ensure that attorney and their firm are held responsible for their actions and obtain justice and rightful compensation for our clients.
If you lost your case, were denied your day in court, or your attorney was unethical or unprepared, we welcome you to contact our firm. Not all mistakes constitute legal malpractice. However, contacting a knowledgeable and experienced legal malpractice attorney who can assess what happened and why is always in your best interests. To schedule your free consultation, please call (513)496-3331 or fill out our online form. We are available anytime, day or night so call now.