What is considered legal malpractice? Can you sue your lawyer for bad representation?
Not all bad representation is considered legal malpractice. Not every mistake or error is legal malpractice. For a lawyer’s error or mistake to be legal malpractice the error or mistake must have happened because the attorney was negligent or acted with an intention to harm the client. The negligence or intentional harm must have caused some kind of damage to the client. Some examples of negligence are: failing to answer a lawsuit in time, failing to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, failing to name proper parties and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).
A lawyer can also commit malpractice by breaching his or her fiduciary duty. An attorney owes his or her client the utmost duty of loyalty and confidentiality. An attorney can breach their fiduciary duty by engaging in self-dealing, not disclosing a conflict of interest (suing a current or former client), disclosing confidential information, putting the attorney’s interest above the client’s interest, and misusing client funds.
Legal Malpractice cases are hard to prove. Just because you do not like the result of the case does not mean that your attorney committed legal malpractice. You have to prove mistakes were made. And then you have to prove that “but for” the attorneys conduct you would have had a different result. And because of that conduct, you were harmed.
To determine if you have been a victim of legal malpractice, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did I get investigated because my attorney drafted a document or agreement that was improper or ambiguous?
- Did I lose my case because my lawyer drafted a document or agreement that was improper or ambiguous?
- Did my attorney “dump” my case just before the statute of limitations ran out?
- Did my attorney miss a crucial deadline?
- Did my attorney conduct inadequate “discovery”?
- Did my attorney pressure me to accept a plea agreement or settlement instead of going to trial because of his/her lack of preparation and/or experience?
- Did my attorney have a conflict?
- Did my attorney lie to me?
- Did my attorney put his or her interest above my own?
- Did my attorney lie to the court?
- Did my attorney steal money from me?
- Did my attorney tell opposing counsel information that was confidential?
- Did my attorney fail to obtain my consent?
- Did my attorney not know the law?
- Did my attorney not apply the proper law?
- Did my attorney not properly investigate my case?
- Did my attorney fail to file documents and missed deadlines?
- Did my attorney fail to calendar or know important deadlines?
- Did my attorney commit fraud?
- Did my attorney hide critical information me?
- Did my attorney’s conduct create tax consequences for me?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might have been the victim of legal malpractice. Minns & Arnett’s are not afraid to sue other attorneys if the actions of that attorney caused harm.