Before heading to trial, your lawyer told you that you had a slam-dunk case. But on your day in court, you were stunned when the other side won and you lost miserably. Now, you are hurt, angry and several thousand dollars poorer.
You feel that your lawyer lied to you, or at least misled you about the likelihood of winning. Lawyers are supposed to be honest with their clients—so does this mean that you have a case for legal malpractice?
Losing doesn’t always indicate malpractice
Losing a case can sometimes indicate malpractice, but not always. Legal malpractice refers to a lawyer’s poor conduct that falls below the standards of practice. When a lawyer fails to meet these standards and his resulting malpractice harms the client’s case, there may be grounds for a legal malpractice lawsuit. However, you would need to demonstrate to a court that your lawyer’s conduct failed to meet the standards of due care and that this negatively affected your trial’s outcome.
Simply losing your case is not enough to bring a malpractice lawsuit. There are many reasons that you may have lost your case. Perhaps the judge or jury was persuaded by the other side’s argument, or your evidence was not substantial enough. It is also possible to lose a case because of your lawyer’s weak arguments, lack of experience or poor attiude . These signs might indicate an inferior lawyer, but they are not considered malpractice.
When is losing caused by malpractice?
There are some times when losing a case is indeed the result of legal malpractice. Your trial’s outcome may have been influenced by legal malpractice if your lawyer:
- Had a conflict of interest
- Missed a deadline
- Violated a statute of limitations
- Did not understand the law
- Did not follow your instructions
If your lawyer committed one of these infractions and it affected your case’s outcome, you may have grounds for a legal malpractice lawsuit.