Lawyers have a duty of competence to their clients, and there are significant consequences for clients when an attorney does not fulfill this duty. When an attorney fails his client due to malpractice, he or she can be held accountable. Most lawyers carry malpractice insurance, just as doctors do, so there will be money available to pay for losses and damages when malpractice occurs. However, it can sometimes be difficult to understand exactly what attorney conduct (including both actions and inactions) can be considered legal malpractice.
Someone who believes his or her lawyer has committed legal malpractice needs to understand how California law defines legal malpractice. An attorney with experience in these types of claims can provide assistance in putting together a strong case.
What Must be Proven to Win a Legal Malpractice Case?
To win a legal malpractice case in California, a plaintiff who sues an attorney must prove:
- There was an attorney/client relationship. Not every interaction with a lawyer automatically creates this relationship.
- The attorney was negligent in the legal representation provided. The representation must have been substandard, below what a reasonably competent legal professional should have provided under the circumstances.
- The negligence of the attorney was a proximate or direct cause of some kind of specific harm to the plaintiff.
- The extent of the harm caused by the legal malpractice.
Sometimes, there is clearcut evidence the lawyer made an unacceptable mistake. This can occur, for example, in situations where an attorney misses an important court deadline that no competent attorney would have missed. In other cases, however, it is far less clear whether an attorney actually did something wrong. Reasonable people can disagree over whether legal advice offered by a lawyer was good advice or bad advice.
Even when an attorney did make an error, proving that actual damages occurred as a result, is often the most difficult thing a plaintiff must do to win a legal malpractice case in California. This is because it is often unclear whether even the most competent attorney would have achieved a different outcome maschiosalute.it.
No matter how strong a case, a win is never guaranteed in court and there is always uncertainty when a case is presented to a judge or to a jury. To win a legal malpractice case in California, a plaintiff has to prove that more likely than not the outcome of the case would have been different if a reasonably competent attorney had handled the case. Expert witnesses can help a plaintiff prove this element of a legal malpractice case, but since the outcome of litigation is always uncertain it can still be challenging for a plaintiff to prove with sufficient certainty that the plaintiff would have been better off but for the lawyer’s actions.
A Long Beach Legal Malpractice Lawyer Can Help
Your Injuries are Personal to Me
The Law Office of Michael D. Waks can put together a strong claim for a legal malpractice case in California. Call Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 or use the convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation to learn more.
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