At Osborne & Francis, we go by the saying, “Real Tough Lawyers,” because we aren’t afraid to back down from a defendant, whether it be a large corporation or an attorney who has committed malpractice. If you or a loved one hired a lawyer and were affected by their negligence, contact us at (561) 293-2600 for representation. We are the law firm Florida residents have trusted for years to handle their most sensitive issues. We’re prepared to bring justice wherever it’s needed. Legal malpractice happens when a lawyer doesn’t follow the standards they are supposed to, and their error affects their client negatively. All lawyers have a duty to follow ethical standards and rules of professional conduct. If they fail to do so, they may be sued under legal malpractice laws.

Legal malpractice can happen in basically any case, whether it be a car accident claim, defective product case, or any other type of legal claim.

When dealing with legal malpractice, it becomes necessary to secure additional legal counsel to represent you against your former lawyer. Suing a lawyer is no easy task, since lawyers are trained in the law, and they will usually fight hard to defend themselves if accused of malpractice. Read on to learn more about your rights in the event of legal malpractice.

Legal malpractice can be one of the most frustrating things to deal with: you’ve already hired a lawyer to resolve your legal issues, but then their conduct creates additional legal problems. What can you do in such situations? Find out how a legal malpractice lawyer can assist you.

What Are Common Examples of Legal Malpractice?

Legal malpractice can take on many forms and involve many different types of conduct. The following are examples of violations that could form the basis of a legal malpractice suit:

  • Substance abuse: For instance, if your lawyer shows up to court or a meeting with you while drunk
  • Lack of zeal: Under ethical rules, all lawyers are required to represent their clients “zealously” and to the best of their ability. If your lawyer is not taking your case seriously or is cutting corners, and it costs you, you may have a malpractice claim
  • Lying: Any acts connected with your case involving lying or deception could lead to a legal malpractice claim
  • Illegally obtaining evidence: For example, using illegal means to obtain evidence, such as hacking, stealing, breaking into the other counsel’s office, etc.
  • Breach of confidentiality: This is a big one. Once you form a formal relationship with an attorney, they are bound by the attorney-client privilege. This means that any and all communications between you and them must be kept private and confidential. For example, lawyers cannot post details about your case on their personal social media account

There are various other acts that could constitute legal malpractice. If you are unsure at all about the way your lawyer is handling your case or treating you as a client, you may need to contact a legal malpractice attorney to determine whether you have a claim. Don’t discuss these matters with the violating attorney without a new lawyer, as they may eventually be the opposition in a malpractice suit.

What Are the Four Elements of a Legal Malpractice Cause of Action?

Generally speaking, there are four elements that need to be proven in a legal malpractice case. Proving legal malpractice isn’t as simple as saying, “My attorney didn’t try hard enough to win my case.”

You would need to show that:

  1. The attorney owed you a duty of care
  2. The attorney breached their duty
  3. Their breach was the cause of your losses
  4. The losses are real, actual, and measurable

These four points are similar to elements in other professional malpractice cases, such as medical malpractice.

Proving the first point is usually the easiest, since all licensed attorneys are bound by certain duties as outlined by ethical rules and professional responsibility codes. Proving causation is usually the most difficult, as you need to show that you probably would have won your case if the lawyer had followed the correct rules.

For instance, suppose a lawyer fails to return a phone call. This might not immediately qualify for a legal malpractice claim, unless it can be proven with certainty that they would have won the case if not for the lawyer’s failure.

Legal malpractice cases can be complex and may involve several elements that all need evidence of proof at every step of the way. Bringing a case against an attorney or a law firm is itself a challenge, as you would be going against people who regularly deal with the law.

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What Do Damages Cover in a Legal Malpractice Case?

Damages in a legal malpractice case can cover a substantial amount of losses caused by the attorney’s negligence. While these may vary from case to case, they generally cover:

  • Financial losses stemming from the malpractice (that is, what you would have recovered if you had won your case)
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Lost wages (for instance, from missing work due to trial)
  • Emotional distress

Lastly, in cases involving extremely negligent or reckless behavior, or intentional behavior, the court may order that punitive damages be issued. These are damages intended to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing and deter them from such conduct in the future. An example of this might be in cases where the lawyer intentionally sabotaged their own case to get themselves out of representation.

J. Davis

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“I couldn’t have asked for a better lawyer/ firm — everything was done professionally exactly how I wanted. Due to COVID my personal attorney Mr. Garcia was still able to make things work in a timely manner and he never made me feel like he wasn’t working. Overall I’m happy with how my case turned out and I would recommend him and this law firm to anyone. 100% satisfied.”

E. Holland

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“Dennis and the other Osborne Francis staff were amazing! Our case was HUGE and required tender loving care. Everyone on our case did their part by putting all the puzzle pieces together. We were given step-by-step updates and put at ease when our nerves got the best of us. For every inquiry we made we received a timely response.”

E Holland

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“Dennis and the other Osborne & Francis staff were amazing! Our case was HUGE and required tender loving care.  Everyone on our case did their part by putting all the puzzle pieces together. We were given step-by-step updates and put at ease when our nerves got the best of us.  For every inquiry we made we received a timely response.”

C. Smith

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“I am so thankful for EVERYONE, the entire staff at Osborne & Francis Law, for mentoring me through the mediation process with my hip replacement failures. I didn't realize how MUCH pressure they relieved me of by helping me deal with the reality of this traumatic time in my life, as it was OVER so quickly with a positive result. My family is grateful to have their mom HAPPY & FOCUSED on the future, rather than worrying over what happened in the past! FAST FORWARD, we are LIVING LIFE to the fullest once again!”

Erica F.

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"Best personal injury attorney around, I could not be happier! I was seriously injured in a car accident and Osborne and Francis helped me through the entire process. I was blown away by how knowledgeable the staff and attorneys are at this incredible law firm. I would not hesitate to recommend this law firm to friends and family!"

J Davis

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“I couldn’t have asked for a better lawyer/ firm. Everything was done professionally and exactly how I wanted. My personal attorney Mr. Garcia was still able to make things work in a timely manner and he never made me feel like he wasn’t working. Overall I’m happy with how my case turned out. I would recommend him and this law firm to anyone. I am 100% satisfied.”

T. Andrews

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“Attorneys Greg Francis and Ryan Fletcher at Osborne & Francis Law Firm represented me in my personal injury case.The defendant drew a line in the sand and was adamant on a settlement amount I was almost willing to accept. After the dust settled and the smoke cleared, we settled for 3 times that amount!!! When they say ‘Real Tough Lawyers,’ they mean it.”

E. Holland

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Dennis and the other Osborne & Francis staff were amazing! Our case was HUGE and required tender loving care. Everyone on our case did their part by putting all the puzzle pieces together. We were given step by step updates and put at ease when our nerves got the best of us. For every inquiry we made we received a timely response...You are appreciated!

Alfred

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Quick and fair resolution to a unique case. On advice of my own attorney, I engaged Joseph Osborne of Osborne & Francis of Boca Raton, FL. Mr. Osborne had considerable experience in cases such as mine and the results showed that. Mr. Osborne and his staff were very helpful, kept me up to date, and listened to my input. The settlement was very fair as far as I am concerned.

C. Smith

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I am so thankful for EVERYONE, the entire staff at Osborne & Francis Law, for mentoring me through the mediation process with my hip replacement failures. I didn't realize how MUCH pressure they relieved me of by helping me deal with the reality of this traumatic time in my life, as it was OVER so quickly with a positive result. My family is grateful to have their mom HAPPY & FOCUSED on the future, rather than worrying about what happened in the past!

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Why Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer to Handle a Legal Malpractice Case?

As mentioned, legal malpractice cases can be complex and may involve several elements that all need evidence of proof at every step of the way. Bringing a case against an attorney or a law firm is itself a challenge, as you would be going against people who regularly deal with the law.

It’s in your best interests to hire a lawyer if you feel you have been subject to legal malpractice. We at Osborne & Francis have the experience needed to handle malpractice claims. We believe everyone is entitled to proper legal representation, and that they are also entitled to recover damages when that right is violated. Contact us at (561) 293-2600 to schedule a free consultation to determine what your next steps are toward recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What elements must be present for a legal malpractice claim?

The following elements must be proven in a legal malpractice case:

  1. The attorney owed you a duty
  2. The attorney violated their duty
  3. The violation or breach was the cause of your losses
  4. The losses can be quantified and measured

Proving these elements requires extensive documentation, so you may need to reach out to a lawyer for help proving legal malpractice.

What is the statute of limitations for legal malpractice?

The statute of limitations (filing deadline) for legal malpractice in the state of Florida is two years. In other words, you have two years to file a claim against the lawyer or law firm for malpractice negligence.

Thus, you don’t have forever to file your case. It’s better to file sooner than later, so you don’t miss the filing window. Also, that way, the events, and your questions will be fresh in your mind, and it will generally be easier to secure evidence for proving your case in trial.

What are some alternatives to suing for legal malpractice?

There may be various alternatives to suing for legal malpractice. Pursuing a full lawsuit can sometimes be costly and time-consuming. Other alternatives include:

  • Reporting the lawyer to the relevant state disciplinary board
  • Getting a new lawyer to handle your case (for instance, if the damage is not severe)
  • Engaging in settlement negotiations or mediation to resolve the dispute (this may still require hiring a new lawyer to guide you through this process)

At any rate, if you feel you may have been subject to legal malpractice, it’s important that you speak with a different attorney for advice on what your options are.

How long does a legal malpractice claim take?

Each case is different, and legal malpractice cases can take anywhere from several months to a year or longer to complete. One issue to consider is that the original claim that you hired the lawyer for might still need completion.

For instance, if you had a personal injury matter, and the case was interrupted due to legal malpractice, that original claim still needs to be resolved, which can add to the overall time. If you have any questions at all about legal malpractice and/or the underlying original claim, contact Osborne & Francis at (561) 293-2600. We work hard to ensure each client of ours is justly compensated.