November 30, 2015
What Do You Do if You Think Your Attorney Has Made a Mistake?
Category: Legal Malpractice | Author: | Share:
When hiring an attorney, you expect to receive legal representation that adheres to the standards of ethics and responsibility expected of the legal profession. Attorneys owe numerous duties to their clients, the least of which is to only take cases that they have the knowledge, experience and ability to handle competently.
Unfortunately, sometimes attorneys can make mistakes that can affect you greatly. If you think your attorney has made a mistake that caused you financial harm, you may have a claim for legal malpractice.
The Basic Duties Attorneys Owe to Their Clients
Attorneys in Indiana and other states throughout the country are required to comply with certain rules of professional conduct. While specific rules vary from state to state, they typically cover the same general themes and impose the same basic standards on all attorneys who are licensed to practice law. A violation of these rules does not guarantee that you have a viable legal malpractice claim, but they do show situations in which legal malpractice commonly arises.
Some of the most basic duties are also the most important. These include:
- The duty of competence
- The duty of confidentiality
- The duty to communicate with their clients
- The duty to avoid conflicts of interest
Attorneys’ Duty of Competence
Under the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers may only represent clients in lawsuits and transactions if they have “the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.” If your attorney took a case that he or she was not competent to handle, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
Attorneys’ Duty of Confidentiality
With only a limited number of narrow, carefully-defined exceptions, attorneys are required to keep their clients’ information in strict confidence. Unfortunately, whether it’s from losing track of paper files to leaving their computer systems exposed to breaches of security, many attorneys fail to adequately protect their clients’ confidential information. If your attorney disclosed your confidential information without your consent and you suffered harm as a result, you may have a claim for legal malpractice.
Attorneys’ Duty to Communicate with Their Clients
Lawyers are also required to maintain open lines of communication with their clients. In Indiana, this specifically includes:
- Notifying a client of any decision or circumstance that requires their informed consent
- Consulting with clients about the means available to achieve their objectives
- Keeping clients reasonably informed about the status of their legal matters
Many legal malpractice cases arise from a lack of communication. For example, if your attorney rejects a settlement offer without your authorization and you later end up losing your case, this could be a situation where you have a claim against your attorney.
Attorneys’ Duty to Avoid Conflicts of Interest
All lawyers owe a duty to avoid conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest can arise when attorneys (i) place their interests before the interests of their clients, or (ii) take on clients whose interests are adverse to one another.
Attorneys are only permitted to represent clients with conflicting interests under certain, limited circumstances, and before doing so they must clearly explain the situation to both parties and obtain their informed consent. If a conflict has prevented your attorney from exercising independent judgment in your best interests, this is another situation where you may have a malpractice claim against your attorney.
Seeking Representation for Legal Malpractice
If you think you may have suffered financial losses due to legal malpractice, you should speak with a lawyer at a different law firm from the one that is currently representing you. At Price, Waicukauski, Joven & Catlin, LLC, we focus a significant portion of our practice on representing clients in cases involving legal malpractice.
When you contact us, we will conduct a thorough assessment to determine if the attorney who represented you may have failed to meet his or her duties. If so, we can help you fight to recover your losses. These cases aren’t easy, and just because you lost does not mean that your attorney failed to meet his or her obligations. But, if you suffered a loss due to legal malpractice, we want to help you hold the negligent attorney or law firm responsible.
Contact Price, Waicukauski, Joven & Catlin, LLC About Your Legal Malpractice Claim
For more information about pursuing a claim for legal malpractice, we urge you to contact us for a complimentary consultation. When you meet with us, our Indianapolis legal malpractice attorneys will help you understand your rights and make an informed decision about whether it makes sense to file a claim. To get started, call our Indianapolis law offices at (800) 905-2856 or contact us online today.