Malpractice Requires Proof of Negligence


If and when an attorney does not follow the standards of ethical and professional conduct, the case may justify a claim of legal malpractice.

If an attorney has acted negligently and that negligence has caused you damages, it may warrant a claim. To win your claim, you would need to demonstrate that your attorney negligently violated the standard of care all attorneys should provide to their clients, and that you were unable to recover potential damages as a result.

The claim may require you to prove negligence on the part of the attorney. To prove this, you would need to show that:

The attorney owed a duty to provide competent and skillful representation;

This may be the easiest of the four elements you need to prove. In most cases, if an attorney client relationship exists, you are owed a duty of care.

The attorney breached the duty by acting carelessly or by making a mistake;

Proving carelessness is not always easy. Catching an obvious example of a mistake — and a mistake significant enough to lose a case — is also a challenge. Missing deadlines and failing to provide adequate documentation can, in certain cases, be considered sufficient to prove a mistake.

The attorney’s breach caused an injury or harm;

Showing that a case was lost due to this mistake or careless behavior requires, in essence, re-litigating the case. The attorney should be acting in the best interests of his or her client, but what happens if that is not the case?

The harm caused a financial loss

Financial losses can take the form of losing an award judgement in a civil suit. In can also appear as lost wages, or as payments made for legal services that did not live up to the promise of “competent and skillful representation.”