When Baton Rouge residents go to a lawyer for legal representation, they’re usually taking a huge risk. For many people, hiring an attorney is one of the most expensive decisions they’ll ever make and they certainly do not expect to have to later find a second attorney to assist them with a legal malpractice claim. Whether you found your attorney through an internet search or a friend or family member personally recommended him or her, by retaining an attorney, you’re putting your trust in that lawyer’s commitment to provide you with solid legal representation. In most cases, Louisiana attorneys do an acceptable job for their clients. In other cases, however, they commit malpractice by violating the standards of service that legal clients can reasonably expect. If this is what occurred in your Baton Rouge, LA case, you will require the assistance of a legal malpractice attorney to remedy the situation. While each case is unique, there are several ways in which it is common for a negligent attorney to commit malpractice.
- What Is Legal Malpractice?
- What Are The Elements Of A Legal Malpractice Claim?
- Will My Louisiana Legal Malpractice Case Go To Trial?
- Can I Automatically Sue For Legal Malpractice If My Attorney Made A Glaring Error?
- Should I File A Bar Complaint Against My Attorney?
- Are Legal Malpractice Claims Generally Charged On A Contingency Basis?
- Can I Sue My Lawyer If He Fails To File Paperwork On Time?
- Are Expert Witnesses Necessary To Prove A Legal Malpractice Case?
Common Forms of Legal Malpractice
If your attorney committed or is suspected to have committed one of following acts of malfeasance, you may be the victim of legal malpractice and need to seek out a Baton Rouge legal malpractice attorney:
- Violated attorney-client privilege: Your lawyer is prohibited from talking about your personal details or sharing the specific details of your case, or your private information with any unauthorized person. He or she is not even permitted to share information about you or your case with co-counsel working on the case with him or her without your permission. If you do not give permission, your attorney must keep your information completely confidential, even within the office. If your information has been shared without your permission in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, contact a legal malpractice attorney immediately.
- Ignored a conflict of interest: If, for example, your lawyer is a close friend or relative of the opposing party in your case, this could create a conflict of interest. If your attorney is part owner of or has some other financial interest in a business that is involved in your lawsuit, he or she is put in a position that could jeopardize his or her loyalty to your best interests. Your lawyer is required to disclose any possible conflict of interest to you and to potentially resign from representing you in your legal matter as a result.
- Agreed to a settlement that you did not authorize: Your attorney absolutely must communicate with you about any and all information that develops surrounding your case. You are required to agree to and provide authorization for any type of settlement agreement that your attorney accepts on your behalf. If you did not consent to a settlement and your lawyer agreed to it for you, it is likely that your attorney breached his or her fiduciary obligation to act in accordance with your best financial interests. Consult with a Baton Rouge legal malpractice attorney.
- Overbilled you: it is not uncommon for clients to discover that their attorney has overcharged them in one or more of several forms:
- Padding hours: While it is common for attorneys to bill in time increments and round up to the next hour, it is not standard or acceptable to round 30 minutes of work up to three hours, for example.
- Double billing: Double billing is the practice of billing two clients for the same hour of work. Shockingly, surveys have shown that over 30% of attorneys admit to double billing and only half consider it to be unethical, despite the American Bar Association condemning it.
- Billing for overhead: While it is acceptable for an attorney to calculate his or her rates to include the cost of running a business, it is not acceptable for him or her to directly bill clients for expenses like after-hours meals or overtime for employees who work late on their case.
- Billing attorney rates for non-attorney tasks: Most law offices bills at several levels. Work performed by a paralegal or research assistant might be billed at $75 per hour, while work performed by an attorney might be billed at $450 per hour. If every item on your bill is at the highest rate, it is likely that you are being overcharged for some of the services performed.
What constitutes legal malpractice in Louisiana?
When a lawyer makes a mistake that costs you your Baton Rouge case, he or she can be held accountable via filing a malpractice claim with the help of a legal malpractice attorney. There are a multitude of errors attorneys frequently make that constitute malpractice:
- Clerical error: Failing to proofread a document can spiral out of control in a legal case. A typographical error, especially concerning dollar amounts, can be dire for your case and leave you with a malpractice claim against your attorney.
- Record search error: Many legal cases require the search of public records for trademarks, patents, or titles. When an attorney either fails to perform these searches or performs them incorrectly, it can amount to malpractice. Contact a Louisiana legal malpractice attorney.
- Refusal to follow instructions or obtain consent: Your attorney represents you and is bound by your instructions. If a legally binding move is made against your wishes or without your consent, intentionally or by mistake, your attorney has committed malpractice.
- Incorrect knowledge or application of the law: The most common form of legal malpractice is simply failure to correctly know or use the law. This can be due to a lack of effort to learn the facts of the case or negligence of the applicable law itself. An experienced legal malpractice attorney in Baton Rouge, LA can help you determine whether malpractice occurred in your case.
- Ineffectual strategizing: Legal proceedings require careful planning and the formation of a sound legal strategy. Failure to dedicate time and effort to creating a strategy that could feasibly benefit you and your legal case is not an acceptable practice.
- Neglecting to file documents: While many legal documents are attached to specific deadlines, others are not technically time sensitive. It is shockingly common for these documents to be pushed aside by attorneys and never filed, quite possibly causing a loss in your case.
- Inadequate investigation: An attorney who fails to properly investigate the facts of your case or thoroughly conduct all necessary forms of discovery is opening himself or herself up to a valid malpractice claim.
- Failure to calendar or meet a deadline: Attorneys are required to keep a calendar of court dates and deadlines for each case they handle. Missing a court date or deadline or being unaware of a deadline or of how a deadline applies to a document or a case is a very common form of malpractice.
- Conflict of interest: Before an attorney accepts a new case, it is standard procedure to check the names of the parties against existing clients to avoid representing clients with conflicting interests. Being unaware that the conflict exists does not excuse an attorney of this type of legal malpractice.
- Improper withdrawal: An attorney who fails to withdrawal properly from a case in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is committing malpractice. Take your case to a skilled legal malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
- Fraud: Any type of fraudulent activity on the part of your attorney is always grounds for legal malpractice.
What Types Of Damages Can I Ask For In A Legal Malpractice Suit In Louisiana?
The goal of a legal malpractice case is to attempt to return you to where you would be, if the mistake had never been made by your attorney. You could be entitled to damages for some kind of benefit that you were not able to obtain because of your attorney’s mistake. You could also be entitled to damages for any money you lost or was forced to pay as a result of the mistake. You may even be entitled to recover any damages that you should have received in your original Baton Rouge case. An experienced legal malpractice attorney can guide you in what types of damages to ask for.
If My Damages Are Only A Few Thousand Dollars, Is It Worth It To Pursue My Malpractice Case?
Legal malpractice cases are incredibly time-consuming, complicated cases. They involve intense time commitments and the expense of hiring a legal malpractice attorney. It is usually not financially feasible to pursue a legal malpractice claim in Baton Rouge, LA if the damages involved are minimal.
What Does It Mean When A Jury Is “Backward Looking”?
Legal malpractice cases are complicated, especially because juries are instructed to consider not only the facts of what happened in your original case, but also attempt to understand what would have happened, if your attorney had not made the mistakes that he or she did. A skilled Baton Rouge legal malpractice attorney will be able to explain how your original case affects your malpractice case to both you and a Louisiana jury.
Am I Allowed To Fire My Attorney After I’ve Signed An Agreement?
You have the right to fire your attorney at any time, even if your fee agreement says otherwise. However, your attorney may be entitled to certain remedies, depending on whether or not a judge finds that the termination was for good cause.
What Consequence Could I Face For Firing My Attorney?
If your lawyer breached your contract in any way, then you have good cause and the attorney may have to forfeit his or her right to any compensation at all from you. Or, he or she may be entitled to be paid for the work they did before you fired them. If you did not have good cause to fire your lawyer, then he or she may be able to recover the full amount of compensation owed.
Are All Lawyers In Louisiana Required To Carry Liability Insurance?
Unfortunately, attorneys are not required by law to carry professional liability insurance in Louisiana. This lack of insurance may not affect a client’s right to file and win legal malpractice case. However, it can create a huge problem when it comes to collectability. Your Baton Rouge legal malpractice attorney can help you determine the collectability of your claim’s potential judgement.
If My Attorney Does Have Liability Insurance, Will My Claim Automatically Be Covered?
Not all types of legal malpractice are covered under all professional liability insurance policies.
When lawyers make mistakes, they should be held accountable.
If your lawyer made a mistake in your case or transaction, you may lose your case, fail to close a deal, or learn it will cost you a lot of money. It is understandable that you may not want to speak with another attorney, but you should.
An experienced legal malpractice attorney can help you identify if the mistake constitutes malpractice and, if so, what to do about it (which may include using the lawyer). In those situations, it is important to find a trusted attorney in Louisiana that will tell it like it is.
An honest legal malpractice lawyer based in Louisiana.
Tommy Pittenger isn’t afraid to fight for your rights and go after other lawyers that have committed significant mistakes that harm you or your business. He believes everyone should be held accountable for their actions, including lawyers.
Over the last 20 years, Tommy has won significant verdicts and settlements for his clients across the entire state of Louisiana. He takes pride in giving honest advice to his clients and making sure they always understand what is going on and the status of their case.
Types of Cases & Legal Malpractice:
- Drafting or filing errors
- Collection and bankruptcy matters
- Estate drafting and administration
- Family law disputes
- Missed filing deadlines
- Personal injury cases
- Probate errors
- Real estate deals
If you think you have a claim, contact Pittenger Law Firm. There are strict deadlines to file legal malpractice claims. If you think your lawyer committed legal malpractice, contact Tommy as soon as you can for a consultation.
Suspect that your lawyer committed legal malpractice in Louisiana? Contact a Legal Malpractice Attorney.
Legal malpractice might seem rare but it actually happens frequently and simply goes undetected. Most legal clients are not aware of their rights and lawyers are usually rather skilled at covering up their mistakes. If you suspect that your attorney has committed negligence that resulted in damages, consult with a Baton Rouge, LA legal malpractice attorney to determine whether legal malpractice has occurred.
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