If I Lost My Case at Trial, Does That Mean That My Lawyer Committed Malpractice?
Losing a case at trial can be extremely frustrating, and you may be tempted to conduct a search for Tampa legal malpractice attorneys with the expectation that they can and will rectify your loss. But before you invest effort (and emotion) into finding a lawyer specializing in Florida legal malpractice, it’s important to consider that losing your case doesn’t necessarily mean your attorney didn’t do their job.
The fact of the matter is that your attorney can do everything right, and you can still lose your case. What’s more, even if your attorney made mistakes — they are human, after all — those mistakes, alone, are not enough to demonstrate malpractice. Proving legal malpractice is not easy. You’ve got to show that your lawyer did not use the same level of skill and care that other lawyers would have used in the same situation.
That means you’ve got to show that your lawyer had a duty to act properly, that they breached the duty through negligence, incompetence, or not doing what they promised, and that their actions caused you to suffer harm or incur damages.
Without duty, breach, causation, and damages, you don’t have a leg to stand on, even if you hire the best Tampa legal malpractice lawyers. Tampa legal malpractice law is like anywhere else in the country—you have to show that your attorney made unreasonable mistakes, and that if they hadn’t, you would have been able to win the case. That last part is very important. What it means is that your legal-malpractice lawyer will have to show not only that your previous lawyer was negligent but also that such negligence was the reason you lost your trial.
Even though losing your trial does not by itself point to malpractice, it is definitely true that there are some types of lawyer conduct that indeed rise to the level of negligence — so it’s worth consulting with a legal malpractice attorney in Tampa. They can help you determine if your case was handled negligently, and if it can be rectified.
Let’s take a look at some types of cases that get closer to malpractice:
Errors During Trial — This can occur if your attorney is negligent at any point during the trial process, by failing to file motions on time or seriously mismanaging your case in court. In other cases, an attorney might not disclose a conflict of interest when he or she was legally required to, which can lead to suffering damages.
Failure to File an Appeal On Time — In Florida, this can result from your attorney not filing your appeal within 30 days from the date of your final order—a document signed by the judge and filed by the court clerk that disposes of issues and counterclaims.
Failure to File Case in Time — This can result from not filing a case during the statute of limitations, which is the time allotted by statutory the law to pursue a lawsuit. If the claim is not filed by the deadline, you could forever forfeit your right to pursue legal action.
Failure to Properly Investigate — This type of negligence occurs when an attorney does not properly conduct the necessary research and investigation in order to help you obtain a fair judgment based on relevant and obtainable facts.
Improper Preparation of Deeds — This relates to purchasing property. If the deed has not been prepared properly by the lawyer, the sale could be invalidated, or it could cause problems in a later sale—either of which could result in financial loss.
Improper Title/Zoning Searches — This can occur when a real estate attorney does not help you establish a clear chain of title, or does not do their due diligence securing a property that meets your goals due to zoning restrictions. These types of mistakes can set you back in terms of time and money.
Issues Related to Land Use Restrictions — These occur when a lawyer helps you purchase land, but does not inform you (willingly or unwillingly) of restrictions that will prevent you from actualizing your financial goals.
Real Estate Transaction Issues — These can occur for a number of reasons, some of which are facilitated by attorney incompetence. Inconsistent zoning, unauthorized sellers, lack of legal descriptions, and failure to receive a down payment can all be caused by negligent framing of the deal.
Improper Preparation of Wills — This can lead to confusion and family feuding, which are especially unpleasant in the aftermath of a loved one’s demise.
Probate & Estate Planning Legal Malpractice — This occurs when an attorney makes errors in setting up a will or trust that effectively carries out the intent of an individual. These mistakes can cause the probate process to go awry, invalidating the will and causing the family to lose thousands (or more) to the government in the form of taxes.
Improper Settlement of a Case — This can occur when the parties agree to settle outside of a court ruling, but your lawyer did not inform you of all the options, or took an option without consulting you, or didn’t inform you of material facts, such as fees, costs, and medical bills.
Legal Malpractice in Military Divorce — This can happen if your attorney did not disclose that you were on active duty, which in turn can affect the timely filing of paperwork in a case of divorce.
Negligent Failure to Include Issues on Appeal — This could happen when an attorney does not point out important issues that could be considered reversible errors.
Negligent Handling of Medical Malpractice Claims Before a Lawsuit — This can result from failure to follow the strict procedures for bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida. Lawyers must conduct a thorough investigation, retain a medical expert who concurs with the claim, and provide a notice to the defendants that summarizes the nature of the claim.
Sports and Entertainment Malpractice — This results when the attorney of an entertainer or athlete does not represent the best interests of their client, causing them financial loss.
How to find a legal malpractice lawyer in Tampa for your case
As you can see, there is a fair range of cases that can involve malpractice.
You should know that not all plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyers accept legal malpractice cases. The law firm of Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore does — because our lawyers believe that it is only fair to hold all attorneys to the same standards that we hold doctors and other professional to. Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore is glad to discuss all legal malpractice cases brought to their attention, and its attorneys will take the time necessary to determine if they, as Florida legal malpractice attorneys, can help you with your case. The full staff of legal assistants, paralegals, and independent investigators help the attorneys evaluate each case — though, from the very first consultation, you will be talking with a lawyer.
If a decision is made to proceed, the team assists with tracking down details, keeping responses timely, and maintaining open lines of communication: all hands are on deck to fight as hard as possible to help rectify your losses in court.