When a person hires an attorney, they trust the lawyer will consistently act in their best interests. Unfortunately, there are times when those in the legal profession put their interests ahead of their clients. Missing legal deadlines, settling a case without client consent, not disclosing a conflict of interest, or inadequately investigating a case can result in dire consequences for their client and open them up to a legal malpractice action.
If you believe your attorney failed to provide you with an acceptable standard of care, contact the Columbus legal malpractice attorneys at Slater & Zurz LLP to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your situation. We will assess your legal matter during our initial meeting, explain your rights, and identify whether there may be grounds for legal recourse.
Examples of Legal Malpractice in Ohio
With over four decades of handling cases in the legal malpractice realm, our in-depth experience has allowed us to consistently recover maximum compensation for clients who suffered losses due to various situations involving legal malpractice. These cases include:
- Failure to disclose a conflict of interest
- Missed deadlines, such as filing suit within the statute of limitations
- Errors in preparing real estate, business, or other binding contracts
- Mishandling client funds
- Failing to uphold the attorney-client privilege by disclosing written or verbal communication by the client without his or her consent
- Inadequately investigating a case (discovery)
- Lack of knowledge or misapplication of the law
- Errors in legal strategy or planning
- Committing fraudulent acts
- Consistently failing to communicate with a client
- Acting without a client’s consent
Below is a closer look at some of the most common legal malpractice claims.
The legal world is full of deadlines. Perhaps the most important deadline is the time limit afforded to a person to take legal action, commonly referred to as a “statute of limitations.” When an attorney fails to meet the deadline outlined in the statute of limitations, their client is forever denied the right to file a lawsuit and seek rightful compensation. Other missed deadlines include failing to file a written response to the opposing party’s summary judgment motion, failing to request documents or answers during the discovery phase, and failing to file an appeal.
Mishandling Client Funds
Many attorneys require an up-front fee, known as a retainer, to begin working on a case. The retainer fee should only be used to pay for costs related to your legal matter. If your funds were used for any other purpose or are borrowed or stolen by your attorney, then you likely have grounds to file a legal malpractice lawsuit.
Conflict of Interest
In a conflict of interest legal malpractice case, a lawyer puts their own interests above the interests of their client or puts another client’s interests above those of another. Several situations give rise to a conflict of interest case, such as having a personal relationship with a member of the opposing party, representing two clients in a related legal matter, and representing opposing parties in a legal dispute.
Acting Without a Client’s Consent
Although an attorney is hired to represent you in a legal matter, it does not in any way give him or her the right to accept a settlement or take other legal action without your consent. If you did not explicitly tell your lawyer they had permission to accept a settlement above a certain dollar amount, and they did so anyway, you likely have a valid legal malpractice claim.
Compensation in an Ohio Legal Malpractice Claim
Victims of legal malpractice are entitled to recover an amount that “makes them whole.” In other words, they can recover an amount that covers their losses and returns them to a position they should have been in if not for their lawyer’s negligence.
The damages depend on the nature of your malpractice claim. If your attorney’s actions denied you the right to pursue a valuable claim, for example, if they failed to take legal action in a personal injury matter within the statute of limitations and therefore denied you your right to obtain compensation, you may be entitled to recover the compensation you likely would have received. If your attorney’s negligence caused you to lose money in a real estate or other business transaction, you may be able to recover the value of the property or interests you lost. To learn more about the recovery of losses, we invite you to speak with one of our skilled Columbus legal malpractice attorneys.
Proving a Legal Malpractice Claim
Legal malpractice cases can be challenging because typically the attorney and their insurance company aggressively fight the claim. For this reason, it is essential to have a Columbus legal malpractice attorney who can and will fight just as hard. To raise a successful claim, you and your attorney will need to create a compelling argument and provide substantial evidence showing all four of the following elements.
- An attorney-client relationship existed – Your lawyer was representing you, giving you legal advice, or providing you with legal services – regardless of whether you had a formal written agreement. Showing a relationship existed will establish the attorney’s duty to provide you with a reasonable level of care.
- The lawyer failed to provide a reasonable standard of care – The attorney failed to act as other attorneys would have in a similar situation. This is referred to as a “breach of duty.”
- Their breach of duty caused you harm – You were harmed as a direct result of your attorney’s breach of duty.
- You suffered substantial and quantifiable harm – You and your attorney must show the nature and extent of the harm, such as a rights violation, a loss of financial compensation, being ordered to pay out a large settlement amount, or damage to your reputation.
Our Columbus Legal Malpractice Attorneys Can Help
Few attorneys will take cases involving issues of legal malpractice. These cases are often complicated and can take significant time and effort to resolve. However, our team of experienced legal malpractice attorneys never shy away from bringing victims of legal malpractice the justice they deserve. We are strongly dedicated to righting the wrongs that negligent attorneys and firms have committed and restoring our clients’ faith in those in the legal profession.
When presented with a possible legal malpractice matter, we are diligent in our approach. Our legal team will thoroughly investigate your attorney’s actions and determine if those actions constitute legal malpractice. If so, we will expertly create a compelling strategy and provide an abundance of solid evidence supporting your claim. If our skilled negotiations fail to result in an acceptable settlement, our seasoned trial attorneys will bring the matter to court, where we will aggressively advocate on your behalf to bring you the maximum compensation available. With so much on the line, you need ethical and skilled legal representation on your side. We are here to help you through this challenging time and fight to get you the justice you deserve.
Get Expert Advice from a Legal Malpractice Lawyer in Columbus
Lawyers have a duty to represent their clients in a competent and ethical manner. Failure to do so can cause substantial harm to their clients and expose them to legal liability for their negligent or intentional actions. If you believe your legal matter was compromised due to your attorney’s actions or inaction, contact the Columbus legal malpractice attorneys at Slater & Zurz LLP right away. We offer a free, confidential consultation with absolutely no obligation so we can provide the legal advice you need and deserve. To get started, call (614)756-2714 or contact us online. In Ohio, you have one year to take legal action against a negligent lawyer, so don’t hesitate. Call now.