Legal Malpractice Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
Legal issues can be overwhelming. Court dates, subpoenas, statutes of limitations, and other issues are rarely a pleasant experience. Fortunately, a lawyer can help guide new and experienced clients alike through the judicial system to help them resolve issues in a way that is satisfactory.
Unfortunately, not all lawyers are created equal. Even with the best intentions, some lawyers fail to provide adequate representation for their clients. In best-case scenarios, errors are corrected before they cause a grave injustice. However, worst-case scenarios can leave a client helpless, lost, and robbed of their opportunity to get justice.
Here at Schlacter Law, we understand how important justice is for our clients. We not only care for each and every client’s well-being, but we have the experience necessary to get the job done and get the job done right. Regardless of the issue, our attorney malpractice lawyers will work hard to correct any errors made by another attorney and help to ensure that you are properly compensated for their mistakes. Call a Fort Lauderdale legal malpractice defense attorney today for a consultation.
What is Legal Malpractice?
Legal malpractice occurs when a lawyer fails to provide adequate representation to a client. When a lawyer breached their duty for competent representation, they are considered negligent. There are certain elements that need to be present to succeed in a legal malpractice lawsuit. There must be:
- An attorney-client relationship
- An exercise of skill that another lawyer in the same field would use
- The lawyer’s failure was the cause of harm
- The lawyer’s failure caused some form of financial loss
First and foremost a plaintiff in a legal malpractice case must show that there existed a relationship between the client and the lawyer. Merely visiting a lawyer for a consultation may not automatically rise to the level of an attorney-client relationship. However, if the plaintiff can show that the lawyer agreed to give professional advice it might be deemed legal representation. This relationship does not need to be in writing, and any documents the lawyer produces or any discussion concerning advice on a legal matter may be enough to establish the necessary relationship for a legal malpractice lawsuit.
The competency of professional advice given to a client is important in determining if malpractice existed. In determining if the representation was competent, an attorney must use equal diligence and care that would be exercised by another attorney who practices in the same area of law. This is also known as the “reasonably prudent person” standard and is frequently used in law to establish the care that someone would use in most similar situations. Failing to give legal representation equal to or greater than a reasonably prudent lawyer in the same field of law might establish that the lawyer was negligent in their representation.
Showing that a lawyer’s misrepresentation caused a harm is essential in a legal malpractice lawsuit. This causation establishes that had the lawyer used the proper duty of care, the case they were representing would have been successful. This is often extremely difficult to establish since lawyers have a lot of leeway in the choices they make while handling cases. Any one decision could greatly affect the outcome of a case, but if it was a decision that another reasonable lawyer in that field would have also made, legal malpractice might not be established.
Harm is also an essential element in legal malpractice cases. The harm would need to be financial, and without some type of harm, a plaintiff will be unable to show that there was inadequate representation. Additionally, if the financial loss would have existed regardless of whether or not the attorney handled the case then this would more likely than not fail to rise to the level of malpractice.
Whenever a client is unsuccessful in a legal matter it may feel as if their representation was inadequate. However, determining the elements required for a legal malpractice case can be complicated. A Fort Lauderdale legal malpractice attorney can help. Our experience with legal malpractice cases as well as other law issues gives us the necessary knowledge to help determine when representation was properly rendered.
How to Resolve Malpractice Disputes in Fort Lauderdale
There are several ways to resolve disputes with an attorney when a case doesn’t unfold in a way that is satisfactory for a client. These include:
Mediation is part of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process that attempts to get the parties involved to negotiate some form of settlement with the use of a neutral third party. In mediation, both parties are given an opportunity to present the facts as they see them. The third-party will not make any final decisions but will guide the parties to help them find common ground and resolve issues on their own. In malpractice cases, mediation can help resolve fee disputes and other issues pertinent to representation. Once a resolution is made through mediation, the agreement is put in writing and becomes an enforceable contract.
The second form of ADR is known as arbitration. Arbitration is similar to mediation, however, the neutral third party will become the decision-maker for any issues that are difficult to resolve between the parties on their own. This process is similar to that of a trial, with opening and closing statements, and evidence is presented to the decision-maker. Arbitration could be enforced by a court if both parties agree to make a decision binding, however, unlike litigation, arbitration does not generally get the court system involved. Additionally, arbitration is conducted in private, so any resolution is kept out of the public domain.
Litigation is the process where a dispute is taken to court and tried in front of a jury or judge. Legal malpractice cases are civil negligence issues. Litigation can take a significant amount of time and can cost a significant amount of money. In cases where a plaintiff already suffered a serious financial loss, waiting to get their day in court and having to pay another attorney to litigate the matter might be more time and money than is worth the effort. Under these circumstances, mediation and arbitration may be a better solution in cases where the outcome of a legal matter was unsatisfactory and legal malpractice would be difficult to establish in court.
The different dispute resolutions all have their own unique merits and detriments. Deciding which method is most cost-effective and the best use of time is something a legal malpractice lawyer can help determine. Speak with a Fort Lauderdale legal malpractice lawyer at Schlacter Law today to discuss the options available to you.
Statute of Limitations
If there is sufficient evidence that an attorney failed to give the same legal care a prudent attorney in the same field would have given, then litigation may be the best approach to recover compensation through a legal malpractice lawsuit in Fort Lauderdale. The time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit in court for a legal malpractice lawsuit is two years from the time the action accrued.
Determining when an action accrued requires that three elements exist:
- An attorney-client relationship was established
- The attorney was negligent
- There was a loss
For obvious reasons, the first two elements must exist before the third one in order to establish the date to start the statute of limitations. Simply suffering a loss would have no bearing on a legal malpractice case if it occurred before establishing that there was an attorney-client relationship. However, once all three elements are properly established, a plaintiff will have two years from the date of the loss to file a legal malpractice lawsuit.
Any issue that comes before the court system must be done in a timely manner. Deadlines and statutes of limitations must be closely followed or a case could be dismissed, eliminating any possible compensation. Due to the importance of these deadlines, speaking with a Fort Lauderdale legal malpractice lawyer sooner rather than later is important in preserving the ability to file a lawsuit in court. Call today for a consultation.
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my prior lawyer did a bad job?
Determining when a lawyer provided substandard representation is not always an easy determination to make. The important question is whether or not an attorney used the same duty of care another lawyer in a similar and under similar circumstances would have used. Failing to do that may indeed be negligent. The best way to determine if you received adequate representation is to speak with another Fort Lauderdale lawyer who practices in the same area. Call us today so we can help evaluate if you were given effective counsel. If you weren’t, we can help you get compensated for their failure to provide the proper duty of care.
How much compensation can I get?
Compensation will vary greatly based on the circumstances of your case. If an ineffective lawyer prevented you from receiving the proper compensation that you would have received in the first place, that compensation may be available to you now. Additionally, if you paid any legal fees for representation, these fees may also be reimbursable. Consult one of our Fort Lauderdale attorneys today to help determine what kinds of compensation might be available to you.
How do I pay for a lawyer?
Legal fees in these types of cases are usually paid through a contingency fee. This means a lawyer is paid a percentage of any money they are able to recover on your behalf. The percentage varies and is usually between 33.33% and 40%. This arrangement allows a lawyer to proceed with a claim without requiring you to pay anything upfront.