Legal Malpractice: Not as Similar to Medical Malpractice As You Might Think

If your case didn’t turn out the way it should have due to a mistake your lawyer made, you might be wondering whether you have a claim for legal malpractice.

Although most people are familiar with the concept of medical malpractice, legal malpractice differs in more ways than the obvious. Of course, in one case, you’re suing a medical provider for negligence — in the other, an attorney. Still, there are many more subtle differences that have to do with the public’s perception of the two professions.

Public Tolerance for Legal Malpractice is Very Low

In today’s society, doctors are seen as altruistic heroes and attorneys are viewed as greedy villains. While both generally try their best to serve their patients or clients, negligence can still arise in both fields.

In the current climate in which the pandemic looms large, approval ratings for doctors are at an all-time high, and rightly so. In these unprecedented times, doctors who already have our nation’s love have been placed even higher on the pedestal — so much so that in some cases, an otherwise legitimate medical malpractice case might even get passed on by attorneys.

However, the same does not hold true for legal malpractice cases where the public’s tolerance for errors made by lawyers is considerably lower.

Common Legal Malpractice Issues

Although there are many mistakes a lawyer might make in a case, not all of them constitute malpractice. To sue for legal malpractice, a client needs to show that that their lawyer’s error somehow harmed their case — and they lost out on the monetary recovery they should have been awarded as a result. Three common causes of legal malpractice claims include:

  1. Missing the Statute of Limitations

New York has a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims from the accident date, but there are shorter ones if the City of New York and other municipal entities are sued. If an attorney fails to understand the applicable statutes of limitations in your case — or calendar the deadline — your claim could be forever barred, even if you try to file the lawsuit just one day late.

  1. Suing the Wrong Party

Personal injury cases can be tricky. There’s often more than one party who could be held liable for negligence and in some cases, liability might fall on the party you least expect. If your attorney doesn’t name the correct party in the lawsuit, you may have lost out on your right to compensation due to the oversight.

  1. Failure to Apply the Correct Law

The law is highly nuanced and can vary widely. In many instances, even the most experienced attorneys may need to conduct research. An attorney who overlooks an important aspect of the law — or applied the wrong one — may have committed legal malpractice if the outcome of your case was adversely affected.    

If your personal injury lawyer’s mistake caused you to lose your case entirely or a portion of your recovery, you should immediately consult with a legal malpractice attorney.

Knowing that juries have no mercy in these cases when a mistake is clear cut, most attorneys don’t want a malpractice case to go to trial. Your lawyer likely won’t defend themselves and will rely on their insurance company’s lawyers, who will want to settle the case out of court to escape the seemingly inevitable ire of a jury. In fact, we recently settled a case at $2.3 million for an injured worker who’s right to recovery was impacted by his attorney’s negligence — needless to say, the attorney wanted to avoid going to trial at all costs.   

Bottom Line: If you think your lawyer made a mistake in your case that affected its outcome — and you’re right — there’s a good chance you could obtain a substantial recovery.

Contact an Experienced New York City Legal Malpractice Attorney

If you lost out on the compensation you deserved for your accident-related injuries due to your lawyer’s negligence or error, you might be entitled to financial recovery. Our firm is committed to upholding the rights of those who have been injured in accidents and has extensive experience obtaining favorable settlements and jury verdicts in the millions — whether in personal injury lawsuits or legal malpractice cases.   

The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP is a personal injury law firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of accident victims and injured workers to ensure they get the maximum compensation they deserve. Located in Manhattan, we have been handling personal injury cases throughout New York City since 1937. Call to schedule a free consultation at (212) 425-1999 today.