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What are the 4 elements of a legal malpractice claim?

Legal malpractice arises when an attorney fails to perform their duties in accordance with set standards and causes their client harm as a result. Attorneys have a duty to act in the best interests of their clients, ensuring their actions are guided by care, skill and diligence.

This standard is universal across various legal practice areas. The same level of professional conduct is expected if an attorney is handling a personal injury case, a car accident claim, a breach of contract or a criminal matter. In every case, an attorney’s primary obligation is to serve their client’s best interests, adhering to legal and ethical standards.

Common examples of legal malpractice

Legal malpractice can manifest in various forms, including missing critical deadlines. Those oversights can significantly impact the outcome of a case, potentially leading to a malpractice claim. Additionally, conflicts of interest that adversely affect a client’s case are grounds for malpractice.

Proving legal malpractice

To establish a case of legal malpractice, certain elements must be proven. These include:

  • Duty: Demonstrating that the attorney owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
  • Breach: Establishing that the attorney breached their duty.
  • Damage/Injury: Proving that the plaintiff suffered an injury or damages, usually financial.
  • Causation: Showing that the attorney’s breach directly caused the harm suffered.

Malpractice hinges on whether an attorney breached their duty of care and whether this breach harmed the client.

As not every case that isn’t won equates to malpractice, these matters require a nuanced understanding of legal standards and the intricacies of the attorney-client relationship. Clients who believe they’re the victim of legal malpractice can seek legal guidance to better ascertain whether they have grounds upon which to file a case.