Both people and businesses place enormous trust in attorneys to handle issues that have major consequences on their lives and futures. Unfortunately, attorneys can make major errors or failure to act, leading to bad outcomes and negatively impacting lives.
If an Ohio attorney has mishandled your legal matter, you may be entitled to receive monetary compensation from that lawyer. In fact, attorneys in Ohio must carry legal malpractice insurance to cover these types of situations, just as physicians are required to carry medical malpractice insurance.
What is Legal Malpractice and Legal Misrepresentation?
Legal malpractice and attorney malpractice are terms used to describe a situation where an attorney has damaged a client by a negligent action or lack of action. An attorney is required to exercise the degree of care, skill, and diligence that an attorney of ordinary skill and knowledge commonly possesses and exercises in a particular area of law. If he or she does not exercise this level of care, he or she may be guilty of malpractice.
Most attorneys are competent, professional, and ethical. However, some attorneys engage in wrongful and negligent conduct that places their client’s and their client’s cases in jeopardy.
Just because you lost your case does not mean legal malpractice has occurred. Someone who believes that he or she has become the victim of legal malpractice must prove the attorney acted in a manner that no other reasonable attorney would have acted. A person suing for malpractice must demonstrate that “but for” the conduct of his or her attorney, the case’s outcome would have been different.
Definition of Legal Malpractice
By definition, legal malpractice means negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, or breach of contract by an attorney that causes harm to his or her client. A fiduciary duty is the general legal obligation the attorney has to act in his client’s best interest.
Misconduct by an Ohio attorney can fall into one of, or all of, three categories:
- Legal Malpractice
- Criminal Action
- Violation of attorney Ethical Standards
Stealing from a client could fall under all three of the above categories. Forgetting to file a case within a statute of limitations, or forgetting a court date, is not criminal but violates an attorney’s ethical standards and may constitute legal malpractice.
Questions to Ask Yourself
If you are wondering whether or not you are the victim of legal malpractice, ask yourself the following questions, then contact one of our legal malpractice attorneys for a free case evaluation to see if your case fits the definition of legal malpractice in Ohio:
- Was my case dismissed because my attorney failed to pursue the case diligently?
- Did my attorney steal money from an estate that I was involved with or me?
- Was my case dismissed because my attorney failed to designate expert witnesses or failed to provide adequate expert reports?
- Did my attorney force me to settle my case for an inadequate amount due to a conflict of interest?
- Did I get sued because my attorney drafted a document or agreement that was improper or ambiguous?
- Did I lose my case because my attorney drafted a document or agreement that was improper or ambiguous?
- Did the attorney use adequate “discovery”?
- Did the attorney “dump” my case just before the statute of limitations ran out?
- Did my attorney force me to settle out of court instead of going to trial because of a lack of preparation or experience?
- Did the attorney prepare sufficiently for my case?
- Did I get an improper or inadequate settlement in my original suit?
If any of these have happened to you or to an estate that you were involved with, you may be able to collect monetary compensation for legal malpractice. You may also have grounds to file a grievance against the attorney with the State of Ohio Disciplinary Counsel.
How Do You Prove Legal Malpractice
Legal Malpractice requires proof that the outcome of a case would have turned out differently had the attorney not acted negligently, and there is a defined financial loss because of the attorney’s negligence. If the outcome of your case would have been the same despite the attorney’s actions, or if you cannot prove the outcome would have been different, then legal malpractice has not occurred.
Legal Malpractice Statute of Limitation in Ohio
A significant fact about legal malpractice is that legal malpractice claims in Ohio have a one-year statute of limitations. This means that you cannot sue an attorney more than one year after the date of the incident for which you are claiming legal malpractice or one year from the date of your last relationship with the attorney. It is possible the one-year could run from the date you discovered or should have discovered you were injured as a result of the attorney’s malpractice. Still, it could be debatable when you “should have discovered” your legal basis for making a legal malpractice claim.
- Not filing a case on time.
- Not presenting the correct legal information.
- Not presenting your case correctly.
Ohio Legal Malpractice Attorneys
No legal matter is more personal than when your own attorney is the one who has caused you harm. Whether it is through negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct, legal malpractice can have a devastating impact on your life, finances, and future. If you have been the victim of legal malpractice in Ohio, you may be wondering what your options are for seeking compensation. The first step is to contact a legal malpractice lawyer who can evaluate your case and determine if you have a valid claim. At our firm, we offer FREE, no-obligation consultations to help you understand your rights and options under the law. We have convenient locations in Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo to serve your legal needs. Call (888) 534-4850 or reach out to us online to get started.
For more than 30 years, Slater and Zurz have been helping victims who have been wronged and injured by others. We will take aggressive actions against any attorney who has caused a client to suffer losses and damages due to legal malpractice.
To learn even more about legal malpractice, see the most frequently asked questions and the answers. Please click on the following: Legal Malpractice Questions and Answers.