My Attorney Screwed Up My Case . . . What Are My Rights?

If your legal representation makes a mistake that has negative consequences for you, you may be feeling hopeless, frustrated, and confused. As the client, you have certain rights; and your attorney has certain responsibilities and a duty of care toward you. 

If you think your attorney failed in their responsibilities and you’re suffering the consequences, it may be time to contact another attorney about pursuing a legal malpractice claim.

In general, the public benefits from the services of attorneys. However, if you feel like your attorney made a serious error, you may want to consider a legal malpractice claim. These claims can be particularly difficult to pursue, and speaking with an experienced legal malpractice attorney can be beneficial.

How Do You Prove a Legal Malpractice Claim in FL?

Legal malpractice claims can be difficult to prove. They are challenging because they require substantial evidence to show that your attorney failed to exercise the ordinary skill and care expected from legal professionals in similar circumstances.

To succeed in a legal malpractice claim in Florida, you must prove the following four elements:

  • The attorney owed you a duty to provide competent and skillful representation;
  • The attorney breached that duty by acting carelessly or making a mistake;
  • The attorney’s breach caused you an injury or harm; and
  • The attorney’s breach caused you a financial loss.

To win a legal malpractice claim against an attorney, you must often show that a typical lawyer would have prevailed in your case. 

Legal malpractice claims often stem from a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship. This may include poor communication, dishonesty, inferior legal work, billing issues, and more. Some of the most common legal malpractice claims include:

  • Failure to apply the law correctly
  • Errors in strategic planning
  • Inadequate discovery or investigation
  • Failure to file necessary documents
  • Procrastination
  • Lack of obtaining client consent
  • Fraudulent behavior

If you believe your attorney violated your attorney-client relationship in any of these ways, you may have grounds to sue for malpractice. These cases require substantial evidence, and you will likely benefit from an experienced legal malpractice attorney’s guidance. 

A statute of limitations is the time frame in which you must file a lawsuit. If you do not file your case before that deadline, then you will not be able to file it at a later date—unless a rare exception applies. 

In Florida, you have two years from the date the legal malpractice action accrued to file the lawsuit. Determining “the date the action accrued” can be difficult.  Essentially, it means the date that the last element occurred for you to file your legal malpractice claim. 

A knowledgeable legal malpractice lawyer can help you determine the deadline for filing your case and make sure it is filed on time. 

What Are Your Rights as a Client of an Attorney?

When you hire an attorney to represent you, you have certain rights as a client. These include the right to:

  • Know about your attorney’s education and background;
  • Ask if your attorney has experience with cases similar to yours and have the attorney answer;
  • Know in advance how you will need to pay the fees in the case;
  • Know about any possible adverse consequences of your case; and
  • Ask your attorney at regular intervals about the status of your case and have your attorney answer to the best of their ability.

In short, you have the right to effective communication from your attorney that should enable you to make informed decisions about your case. If you believe that this has not happened, then you might have grounds for a legal malpractice claim.

Can I Sue My Lawyer for Negligence If I’ve Lost Confidence in Them?

As the client, you have the right to terminate your attorney at any time. If you’ve lost confidence in your attorney, that is certainly a good reason to terminate them. However, it may not be grounds for a legal malpractice claim. 

Legal malpractice claims have a significant burden of proof, and you will only succeed if you can show that they violated your rights or committed malpractice. Discussing your situation with an experienced legal malpractice attorney will help you determine whether you should pursue such a claim. 

Is My Lawyer Obligated To Keep My Information Confidential?

Yes. Your personal injury attorney must keep your information confidential unless you have given them explicit permission to disclose it or it was required by a court to be disclosed. If your attorney shared protected private information without your consent, then you may have grounds for a legal malpractice claim. 

Is My Lawyer’s Failure To Return My Calls Considered Malpractice in FL?

As discussed above, a client has a right to effective communication from their attorney at regular intervals during the case. Thus, if your attorney is failing to return your calls, you may be wondering if this is grounds for a malpractice claim. 

However, this is usually not enough to bring a lawsuit unless you can show all of the elements of a legal malpractice claim. 

Can I Sue My Lawyer If the Settlement Amount Is Lower Than Expected?

No. Usually, you cannot sue your attorney just because the settlement amount was less than expected. Ideally, your attorney would accurately have advised you on the best and worst outcome for a settlement, and the settlement offer would not be lower than expected. However, you can reach out to other attorneys to get a second opinion about the settlement offer. 

Your attorney is not allowed to settle a case without your authorization. If your lawyer settles without your authorization, then you can likely sue them, especially if the settlement amount is less than what you could have recovered otherwise. 

If you think your attorney’s conduct dipped below the standard of care required and you suffered damages as a result, then you may have grounds for a legal malpractice claim. The attorneys at Hollander Law Firm are here to discuss your case and your options for moving forward. 

Contact our office online or call us at (561) 510-7892 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.