My Attorney Screwed Up My Case… What Are My Rights?
You should think of your lawyer or attorney as an investment in your freedom. Legal bills may be a necessary pain at points in our lives, but they’re nothing compared to what can happen without the advice of someone who knows the legal landscape.
What happens, though, when you feel your attorney has dropped the ball?
Just as a doctor or physician is required to provide you with a certain level of care, a lawyer is expected to provide you with a level of professional legal guidance and service when a lawsuit is filed.
Do I Have the Right to Fire My Lawyer?
Yes, you do. At any point while your case is pending or is being processed, you retain the legal authority to dismiss your attorney.
To do this, you need to put it in writing. Send your lawyer a letter clearly stating that you are ending the professional agreement and that all work on your case should immediately end.
Key things to remember include having another lawyer already lined up to take your case, and securing all your case files or having them made available to your new lawyer as quickly as possible.
Be aware, though, that unless you have another payment arrangement in place, you’ll most likely be required to pay for the services your former lawyer has already performed on your behalf, up to the moment of termination.
Can I Sue My Lawyer for Legal Malpractice?
Although you do have that option, please know that not all instances of dissatisfaction with a lawyer meet the threshold of legal malpractice. In fact, actually proving legal malpractice is often a difficult thing to do.
As with a successful medical malpractice case, there are certain things that must be proven for you to win a legal malpractice case. These qualifications include:
- Proving the existence of an attorney-client relationship
- Establishing that your lawyer did not provide you with a basic level of legal competency
- Proving that if it weren’t for your lawyer acting – or failing to act – in a certain way, you would have won the case
- Illustrating how your lawyer’s negligence harmed you.
Despite what you may feel initially, actually proving all of the above qualifiers to the satisfaction of a judge is an uphill battle. We’re not saying it’s impossible to prevail. But, the odds are probably not in your favor.
Can I Sue My Lawyer If the Settlement I’m Offered is Lower Than What I Expected?
We understand the level of frustration when a settlement amount is less than what you were told to expect. Unfortunately, though, that alone is not justification for a legal malpractice case.
If you feel that strongly about it, your best course of action is to not take the settlement and seek the opinion of another lawyer. If they feel you’re being wrongly advised, consider changing lawyers and pursuing a different settlement amount.
How Much Can I Recover In A Legal Malpractice Claim?
The amount of damages you can recover depends largely upon the unique factors of your individual case.
You may be able to recover what you would have been awarded if you had won your case, along with any out of pocket legal fees for the negligent lawyer and the costs associated with having to hire a new lawyer.
What Level of Service Should I Expect from My Lawyer?
We keep making analogies between doctors and lawyers because the two fields are so similar.
Just as a doctor is duty-bound to provide you with a certain level of medical care, there are rules governing the behavior of a lawyer, including:
- Giving you competent legal guidance or advice
- Remaining in contact with you about your case
- Making sure you’re kept in the loop with challenges and developments while your case proceeds through the legal system
- Ensuring you have all relevant information so you’re able to make informed decisions about your case
- Providing you with an estimated cost for their legal services.
These are just the basic services you should expect when you hire a lawyer. You’d be justified in considering hiring a different lawyer if the first one fails to provide any of the above services.
How Do I File A Complaint Against My Lawyer in Texas?
Even if you decide not to file a legal malpractice claim against your lawyer, you can still file a complaint. To do so, simply visit the online site for the State Bar of Texas.
If you’re thinking of hiring a particular lawyer and want to find out if previous complaints have been filed against him or her, you can find that information as well.