Long Beach Legal Malpractice Lawyers
If your civil case has suffered as the result of an incompetent personal injury attorney in California, you should contact The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV immediately. Our accomplished attorneys have the experience and knowledge that are required to represent clients against negligent attorneys. Mr. Low is a lawyer who is well respected throughout California by his colleagues and clients due to his extensive legal experience, and is known as a tough courtroom attorney. If you believe that your have been the victim of attorney malpractice by your previous attorney, call today for a free consultation.
In the most general sense, malpractice can be defined as "improper conduct." Legal malpractice in California can be defined as "the delivery of substandard or poor quality care by an attorney to his or her client." There is a difference between an attorney providing substandard care and an attorney losing a case. If a lawyer performs his or her duties and is unable to achieve a successful case outcome that is not an example of legal malpractice.
When a case is represented by a lawyer who does not respect the needs of his or her client by offering less than average service the plaintiff may suffer from an enormous financial loss, in both attorney's fees and the lack of settlement monies. Some examples of legal malpractice include:
- Failing to file important court documents
- Mishandling funds
- Not providing a legitimate fee agreement
- Conflict of interest
- Failing to inform the client of large expenses that had not been discussed or agreed upon
- Not acknowledging court orders
- Settling a case without the client's permission
- Settling a case too quickly and for less than an adequate amount, in order to receive attorney's fees
- Not filing a claim within the time allotted for the statute of limitations
In order for a plaintiff to recover monetary compensation for lawyer malpractice, your legal malpractice or negligence attorney will have to prove that your former attorney committed malpractice and were it not for your former attorney's malpractice the case outcome would have been successful.
Many times an expert is consulted to assist in determining if a client has been wronged by legal malpractice. In this situation an expert who specializes in a related field will review the actions taken by the attorney during the attorney-client relationship, and give his or her view as to whether or not the attorney met the standard of care by providing quality legal services.
Legal malpractice has become a large problem across the United States, with clients involved in all types of legal matters receiving poor quality legal care by unskilled and negligent attorneys. If you have been the victim of legal malpractice you do have rights! In California it is a lawyer's duty to provide all clients with a standard level of care while representing a case, and if your attorney did not fulfill certain duties which resulted in a poor case outcome, you may be able to file a legal malpractice suit against them.
In a legal malpractice case it must be proven that there was, in fact, malpractice on the lawyer's part, which must be demonstrated by the plaintiff. The plaintiff must show that the former attorney was negligent while providing legal services, which had a negative impact on the outcome of the case and caused actual damages. In order to prove damages, the plaintiff must exhibit the amount of money that he or she would have recovered if it were not for the negligence on the part of their personal injury attorney. In the State of California a plaintiff who files a legal malpractice claim is required to prove to the jury that if their case had been handled with a higher standard of professional care they would have received a positive judgment and monetary compensation for their injuries.
The fact that the plaintiff did not win a case is not just cause for a legal malpractice lawsuit. The following are situations which do not constitute attorney malpractice:
- Basing damages on speculation
- Assuming that the case should have resulted in a larger settlement
- Believing that the personal injury attorney did not give good advice
Legal malpractice cases are very complex, in that, not only does the plaintiff's attorney malpractice lawyer have to prove that the original attorney was negligent, but the lawyer must also prove that the outcome of the personal injury case would been favorable for the plaintiff and resulted in a monetary recovery.
The following are some legal malpractice frequently asked questions:
What is a personal injury attorney's duty to his or her client?
In most situations of personal injury law, the client has suffered serious physical injuries and hires a lawyer to assist in recovering monetary damages and holding the negligent party responsible for the injuries that they caused. An attorney must abide by strict legal and ethical guidelines when representing clients. For the most part this refers to the attorney's fiduciary duty towards the client, which is the lawyer's responsibility to use a very high standard of care with the client and represent the client's best interest at all times. A client should be able to trust his or her lawyer and feel confident that the lawyer will put forth great effort while representing the case.
What is legal malpractice?
Legal malpractice is a situation in which a person's attorney fails to provide proper legal representation or services, at the same level as other attorneys would provide in a similar situation, resulting in damages on the client's behalf. There are many different actions which are examples of California legal malpractice, such as negligence, mishandling of funds, conflict of interest, and ignoring court orders.
If my attorney did not file my complaint on time do I have a legal malpractice case?
If your attorney failed to provide the courts with important documents in a timely manner, which therefore negatively affected your case, you most likely have a legal malpractice case. As the plaintiff you will have to prove that the untimely filing of the documents harmed your case.
What are the most common types of legal negligence cases?
The three most common types of legal negligence cases in the U.S are attorney negligence, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty.
Can I fire my personal injury attorney?
If you are not satisfied with the services that your Long Beach personal injury lawyer has provided thus far, you may fire your attorney. It does not matter if you have a fee agreement or if your personal injury case is pending, you may get rid of your attorney at any time if you are unhappy with them. You must keep in mind that your attorney may be entitled to some amount of money from you, which was most likely outlined in the fee agreement that you and your attorney agreed upon. In addition to possibly having to pay your attorney, you may also have to receive the permission of the court before firing your lawyer.
What must be proven to have a successful outcome in my legal malpractice case?
Legal malpractice cases are complicated, which is why it is always advised that a person hire an accomplished legal malpractice lawyer, rather than trying to represent him or herself. To have a successful case outcome you, the plaintiff, must prove that (1) your attorney was negligent, (2) that negligence resulted in you sustaining damage, such as not winning your case, and (3) that the attorney's negligence and the resulting unsuccessful case outcome caused you to suffer a monetary loss.
My personal injury attorney is ignoring me and not communicating with me. Is there something I can do?
Lack of communication on a lawyer's part is a common complaint among clients involved in all types of legal matters. If your lawyer's poor communication has become a problem you may want to write them a note (kindly) expressing your frustration and let them know that you would be pleased if they would return your call, email, etc. Written requests for improved communication may be used as favorable evidence, if the case results in a legal malpractice claim against the attorney.
According to Rule 3-500 of the State Bar of California's Rules of Professional Conduct: "A member shall keep a client reasonably informed about significant developments relating to the employment or representation, including promptly complying with reasonable requests for information and copies of significant documents when necessary to keep the client so informed."
My personal injury attorney did not handle my money in the way that I had advised him to do. Does this constitute legal malpractice?
If your attorney mishandled your money, you most definitely should consult with an experienced attorney and file a legal malpractice lawsuit. Even if no damage resulted from the mishandling of funds, your lawyer may be professionally disciplined for blatantly disregarding ethical and professional guidelines.
If your personal injury lawyer has committed any of the above mentioned forms of legal malpractice or any other type of malpractice or negligence which are detrimental to your case you should contact The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV today at (888) 454-5569 for a free consultation. With the representation of an experienced lawyer, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses. Like all other types of cases, there is a statute of limitations in regards to legal malpractice claims, which makes it very important that you speak with a lawyer immediately.