Taking Care of All Your Legal Malpractice Needs
Lawyers are entrusted with much more than the prospect of winning or losing their client’s cases. For many clients, the need to retain the services of a lawyer corresponds with an event with monumental implications for the client’s life. It may be the first time the client has ever had to interact with the justice system. The client may have confided in no one else prior to stepping under the protective cloak of attorney client confidentiality. The trust bestowed in the lawyer by the client is comprised of many elements beyond just the chances of success in court. When a lawyer violates this trust by losing a case due to his or her own mishandling of it, the results can be devastating. Fortunately, in such situations the law provides a cause of action for the client to seek to recover the monetary value of the remedy that he or she would have been able to recover in the original case from the negligent lawyer.
The Challenges of Proving Legal Malpractice
However, legal malpractice cases can be very difficult to win because they involve proving more than mere substandard representation. The standard of care for Washington attorneys requires them to fulfill “a duty to use that degree of skill, care, diligence, and knowledge possessed and used by a reasonable, careful, and prudent attorney in the State of Washington acting in the same or similar circumstances.” Unless a lawyer has held him or herself out to be a specialist in a given area of the law, he or she will not be required to do anything more than proceed in the manner that “a reasonable attorney” would.
Another of the legal elements of a legal malpractice case that often makes such cases particularly challenging is the causation requirement. To prevail, the Plaintiff in a legal malpractice case must prove that it is more likely true than not that he or she would have obtained a more favorable outcome in the underlying legal case. For most types of claims, this requires Plaintiff to prove that he or she would have won the underlying case in the absence of the attorney’s negligence, and to establish in monetary terms what the better result in the case that he or she would have received would have been. These challenges can make certain types of cases overwhelmingly difficult to prove legal malpractice, such as criminal defense cases, in which the requisite burden for a defendant to prove that a jury would have found him or her not guilty could easily prove insurmountable. In practical terms, proving a legal malpractice case is twice the amount of work of proving the original case, because the success of the claim depends upon the merits of the legal malpractice case itself and the separate but related merits of the case-within-a-case. To win, the Plaintiff’s attorney must successfully prove both.
The Hornbuckle Firm Can Help
In a legal malpractice case, juries are also instructed that “A poor legal outcome does not, by itself, establish that the attorney was negligent.” Similar to other types of professional malpractice, the law provides protection from suit brought merely on the grounds of a client’s dissatisfaction with the result of his or her case. Instead, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the lawyer did not handle the case competently and lost specifically for that reason.
The best way to learn if you have a potential claim for legal malpractice is by discussing your concerns with an experienced and trusted Seattle legal malpractice attorney.
To schedule your free consultation with our legal malpractice attorney, please contact The Hornbuckle Firm online or by calling (425) 679-0742 today. We welcome clients from Seattle, Tacoma, and all surrounding areas at our convenient Bellevue location.
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