Common Types of Legal Malpractice

Through years of handling legal malpractice cases, we've learned that these mistakes are common and generally cause damage to the client or another person with a right to sue the lawyer.

In Litigation

1. Filing a lawsuit after the statute of limitation passed

2. Filing a lawsuit in the wrong court

3. Filing in the wrong state

In Estate Planning

1. Failing to write a will to include all beneficiaries

2. Failing to write a will to include all assets

3. Failing to write a trust instead of a will where appropriate

4. Failing to protect estate assets from unnecessary taxation

5. Failing to see that client assets are transferred to trusts where trusts are used in the estate plan

In Divorce

In some circumstances, the answer is yes. However, these are rare. In most cases, the answer is no.

If a lawyer mishandled your case and the mishandling of the case forced you to settle for less than the value the case would have had but for the lawyer's mishandling, the lawyer can be liable. This usually requires a significant mistake by the lawyer, such as failing to obtain medical records, failing to disclose witnesses, failing to learn about your injuries, failure to sue the right parties (especially the culpable defendants with assets or insurance), failing to make a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage, and the like.

If there was a reasonable difference of opinion on the value of your case and you accepted a settlement, the lawyer is most likely not liable for malpractice. There must be mishandling of the case by the lawyer, not just a difference of opinion on case value.

A lawyer is not liable for mistakes in professional judgment. "Professional judgment" can cover a multitude of sins.

By Thomas W. Dillon

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