What Should I Do If My Personal Injury Lawyer is Negligent?

The American Bar Association’s Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability released a study on legal malpractice claims in the US and Canada. The study found significant increases in these claims, with large settlement offers of $2 million or more. If you got caught in motor vehicle accidents or personal injury accidents, the last thing you need is an injury lawyer messing up your personal injury case.  But as a client, you have rights. If these rights are violated and you believe your personal injury lawyer failed to do his duty, you can take legal action and seek compensation. 

Know Your Rights as a Client

When you work with an injury lawyer to handle your personal injury claims and navigate the case law, you’re entitled to certain rights as a client. According to the Lawyer Conduct and Competence of The Law Society of British Columbia, Edmonton lawyers should:
  • Offer informed legal support based on the personal injury law
  • Provide an honest estimate of the costs involved in the legal process
  • Keep you regularly updated on your case’s progress
  • Explain their legal opinions and the reasoning behind them
  • Inform you of any setbacks, delays, or changes in your case
  • Evaluate and discuss the settlement offer versus trial options, including the costs and benefits
  • Provide enough information for you to make informed decisions about negotiating settlements and other legal choices
  • Allow you to make important decisions about your case’s direction
  • Take necessary steps to move your personal injury claim forward, such as investigations and discovery
  • Prepare thoroughly for the trial
You also have the right to effective communication with your lawyer, who understands the case law. Lawyers must adhere to ethical standards and treat you with honesty and fairness.

What Constitutes Legal Malpractice?

Legal malpractice occurs when injury lawyers fail to do their legal obligations according to the established standards and professional conduct rules. It’s more than just not getting the outcome you wanted; you need to prove that the mistake of your lawyer caused you harm and that a competent Edmonton lawyer would have succeeded in your personal injury case. To establish legal malpractice, you must prove four key elements:
Duty of Care You must demonstrate that the lawyer owed you a duty of care, such as complying with professional conduct rules or the terms of your agreement. Edmonton injury lawyers are required to provide competent representation to accident victims.
Breach of Duty You must show that the lawyer either did something wrong or failed to do something they were supposed to do, breaching their duty to you.
Damages It’s not sufficient to show that a mistake was made; you must prove that you suffered financial losses as a result. For example, you’d need to demonstrate that you would have won your case if not for the error of your injury lawyer
Causation You must establish a direct link between the breach of duty of injury lawyers and the damages you suffered

Common Types of Lawyer Negligence

There are various forms of lawyer negligence according to the personal injury law, and knowing about them can help you prevent having to file a claim against your personal injury lawyer. Here are some common types, according to the Law Society of British Columbia:

Failure to fulfill an undertaking

Edmonton Personal injury lawyers make certain promises known as undertakings to a negligent party. They must honour these commitments and report to the Law Society if another injury lawyer fails to do so.

Conflict of interest

Must provide undivided loyalty to each client. They cannot represent you if it conflicts with the best interests of another current or former client.

Delay or inactivity

Pnjury lawyers in Edmonton must promptly respond to emails, phone calls, or letters requiring a response and complete tasks within a reasonable time frame. If delays are anticipated, the injury lawyer should inform you right away.

Transparency regarding fees

Alberta injury lawyers must disclose their billing process for professional time and other charges upfront. While the court cannot regulate fees or mandate reductions, injury lawyers are expected to provide transparent billing practices.

Failure to communicate

Injury lawyers must adequately inform clients to enable them to make informed decisions. This includes responding to client requests for information, emails, and calls and keeping scheduled appointments.

Failure to release records

Lawyers should promptly return clients’ documents, reports, invoices, and other materials upon request or after their legal assistance.

Competency

Lawyers are obligated to maintain sufficient knowledge and skills to represent clients effectively. This includes participating in professional development activities and staying updated with relevant legal system developments.

Other Serious Grounds for Lawyer Negligence

Rudeness or threatening behaviour Injury lawyers are expected to provide courteous service to clients at all times
Withdrawal If your lawyer withdraws from representing you without good cause, it can be a clear ground for legal action
Theft The court will investigate credible allegations of lawyers stealing money or property from their clients during the personal injury litigation.
Criminal activity Injury lawyers in Edmonton charged with criminal offences must report these charges to the court, which will investigate upon becoming aware of such charges

Points to Remember About Lawyer Malpractice Claims

Here are a few important things to keep in mind when considering whether your lawyer might be responsible for legal malpractice:
  • You have the right to terminate your lawyer’s services at any time. However, unless your lawyer’s actions resulted in lost wages due to breaching their duty of care, you may not be able to sue them for malpractice.
  • If you decide to dismiss your lawyer, request a copy of your file or authorize the transfer of your file to your new law firm.
  • Delayed communication or failure to return calls may not necessarily constitute legal malpractice. However, you must seek a new injury lawyer to avoid further complications.
  • Your discussions with your lawyer are confidential, and disclosing this information without your consent could be considered malpractice.
  • If your personal injury case is dismissed, consult another law firm to determine whether your lawyer’s conduct contributed to the dismissal or if there are legal reasons why your case cannot proceed.
  • You cannot sue your lawyer solely because you did not receive fair compensation or the amount they estimated for your case. You can seek a second opinion from another lawyer if you suspect your current lawyer mishandled the case.
  • As an accident victim, you have the right to accept or reject settlement offers. Proceeding with a settlement without your consent may provide grounds for a malpractice lawsuit.
  • Identifying whether a personal injury lawyer committed malpractice can be complex. Consult a malpractice lawyer promptly to discuss your case.
  personal injury lawyer

Personal Injury Lawyer For Negligence

Injury lawyers are expected to adhere to ethical standards. Depending on the seriousness of the breach, they may be held liable for malpractice. Proving this usually requires evidence of negligence or intent to harm and cause damages to you. It’s important to distinguish between a simple mistake and legal malpractice. Edmonton injury lawyers, like everyone, can make errors. But, when a mistake negatively impacts your personal injury case, it becomes a serious issue. Legal malpractice cases can be prolonged and costly. It’s advisable to file personal injury claims promptly if you believe you’ve been wronged. Talk to a trusted personal injury law firm like Sidhu Personal Injury Lawyers Edmonton for accurate advice and legal representation. Get a free consultation and receive fair compensation! 

Frequently Asked Questions

There’s a time limit for filing legal malpractice claims, just like medical malpractice and personal injury claims. You must stay aware of these deadlines. Missing them could mean losing your chance to receive fair compensation. 

The limitation period is two years from the date the cause of action arose or when the client discovered, or ought to have discovered, their lawyer’s negligence. It’s better to consult with a personal injury law firm to determine the specific limitation period applicable to your situation.

The hardest part of a legal malpractice case is showing that the lawyer’s mistakes directly led to your financial losses (i.e., lost income). Law outcomes aren’t certain. You might still lose your case even if a lawyer does everything correctly. While a lawyer messes up, you can still win your case.

In legal malpractice cases, settlements occur when both parties agree on a sum, even if the case is already in court. Settlement agreements outline all terms. If a third party shares blame, your insurance company may seek reimbursement through subrogation.

You can add clauses to keep case details private. Lack of liability insurance can lead to issues; structured settlements paid over time may be negotiated. Different states have varying regulations regarding legal professional liability (LPL). Some settlements involve periodic payments, especially in cases involving child injury, overseen by courts for fairness.

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