Professional malpractice by an attorney in California occurs when the lawyer has caused damage to a client. The damage caused may be due to either negligence or intentional conduct. Legal malpractice can occur in all areas of the law and may take multiple forms.
Legal malpractice, also known as attorney malpractice, may be characterized as gross negligence or simple negligence. Gross negligence occurs when an attorney voluntarily and consciously fails to use reasonable care, while simple negligence refers to the failure to exercise ordinary care. Another form of negligence is negligence per se, which is committed when a regulation or statute is violated, thus causing harm to the client.
Some of the most complex cases involve neglect, where an attorney misses an important statute of limitation, fails to designate witnesses or experts or does not conduct enough investigation or discovery. Complex cases might also involve intentional wrongdoing, such as civil rights violations and libel. Malicious prosecution, theft and fraud are other areas that are grounds for litigation.
Even a conflict of interest is a legitimate reason to file a legal malpractice claim in the state of California, as attorneys are barred from putting their own interests above those of their clients; likewise, they cannot put one client’s interests above those of another. If an attorney has committed a substantive error due to not knowing the law, he or she may also face claims for damages. Finally, a civil lawsuit may additionally allege administrative errors or mistakes in drafting a document. A lawyer with experience in this area of the law can guide you through the process of filing an attorney malpractice lawsuit in an effort to right any wrong that has been committed.