As human beings, we all make mistakes. Attorney’s are hardly immune from making errors and flubs. However, due to the trust that client’s place in their attorneys, and the importance of the tasks which attorneys perform, when mistakes happen it is crucial that they are remedied quickly, and in a professional manner.
Let’s start by discussing some of the most common attorney errors and the way in which the mistakes should be handled when they occur.
Once you know what type of mistakes can occur, why they happen, and how they should be remedied (if possible), you will be better prepared to recognize when an attorney involved with your legal matter has acted in a manner that falls outside of the ethical standards that all attorneys are expected to follow.
Missing A Deadline
Failure to meet a deadline is a significant mistake regardless of your profession. However, when your attorney misses a legal deadline it can have a significant detrimental impact on the outcome of your case. There are several types of legal deadlines imposed by legal statute or by the court presiding over an individual case.
Statute Of Limitations:
A Statute of Limitations is the time established by law within which you have to file a complaint or lawsuit against another party for a specific wrongdoing or harm. For example, the statute of limitations to file a claim for damages incurred during a motor vehicle accident is generally between 2 – 3 years from the date of the accident. If your attorney fails to inform you of the applicable statute of limitations for your particular case, or fails to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires then you may be unable to collect any damages owed to you as a result.
Filing deadlines vary depending on the type of documents and materials being filed. Filing deadlines are generally set and enforced by the judge presiding over the case. Failure to meet a filing deadline can result in the dismissal of your case.
Whether a statute of limitations, or filing schedule, failure to meet either of these important deadlines can result in a negative outcome for the client and therefore the attorney must act immediately, and to the best of their ability to remedy the situation should one of these serious mistakes occur.
Your lawyer is expected to have the required knowledge, skills, and experience to provide effective legal counsel throughout your case. Having the best legal education that money can buy, and acing the state bar exam do not guarantee attorney competence in every case.
The law is vast, and complex. Many areas of the law require an attorney who specializes in that specific legal realm. To give a hypothetical example, imagine that a personal injury lawyer were to take on a complex breach of contract case. It is likely that they would not have the specialized knowledge and experience required to provide effective counsel to their client in this particular legal matter and their error in judgment may cause their client to experience a negative outcome to their case.
Breach Of Fiduciary Duty
When a lawyer accepts a case they enter into a tacit agreement to protect and advocate for the interests of the client. This means that the lawyer must consider and act in accordance with the wishes and the needs of the client in all endeavors. At no time, may the attorney engage in behavior, or decision making that places the attorney’s own interests, or the interests of another before the interests of the client which they represent.
An attorney commits a breach of fiduciary duty when they fail to properly disclose a conflict or potential conflict of interest, violate attorney client privilege, or fail to listen, or act in accordance with the wishes of their client.
Now that you know more about the common types of mistakes committed by attorneys, and the impact that these mistakes can have on the outcome of your case, let’s look at how best to remedy the situation.
What To Do When Your Lawyer Makes A Mistake
An attorney error has the potential to have a significant negative impact on the outcome of your legal case. For this reason it is imperative that you seek the help of a qualified Legal Ethics Attorney with the required industry experience and understanding of ethics law to determine whether a mistake was made, and the most appropriate remedy available to resolve the situation in a fair and equitable manner.
Depending on the severity of the mistake, and its impact on your legal case, a legal ethics attorney may recommend that you pursue a legal malpractice lawsuit against the attorney to recover any damages that you may have incurred as a result of the attorney’s negligence.
As an alternative to filing a legal malpractice lawsuit, a legal ethics attorney may advise you to file a formal complaint against the attorney with the American Bar Association, or other official agency charged with the oversight and discipline of legal professionals.
If you believe that your attorney has made a mistake in the handling of your case which has resulted in a negative outcome, there are several options available to help you to resolve the situation and possibly recoup damages that you have suffered due to the attorney’s error. Attorney Rebbeca Valk is an experienced legal ethics attorney with a deep understanding of the nuances of ethics law. Contact the Law Office of Rebecca A. Valk today to discuss the details of your case. We are here to help!