What To Do If You Have Encountered A Legal Malpractice Claim
As attorneys, we know how personally how hard most of us have worked for our credentials and licensing. We sympathize with any professional whose livelihood and passion is threatened by a legal malpractice suit. In this post, we have compiled some suggestions for legal professionals who have been targeted by legal malpractice suits. If you are being sued for legal malpractice, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today for assistance.
Litigation is not the only answer
When a legal malpractice claim is still a claim, it does not mean that a lawsuit will ensue. The merits of the case need to evaluated to determine whether it will go forward and there may also be settlement options for the right case.
Do not give up the fight
Admitting to legal malpractice is a heavy burden and it is important that you and another professional look at the scenario and determine whether malpractice actually occurred. For example, if you made a mistake with a client, simply rectify by self-reporting the error. If you already acknowledge defeat, you will be more likely to conceal the mistake, an action that no jury would look upon favorably. On the other hand, it is important to remember that not every mistake will be considered worthy of a legal malpractice claim. There are other reasons that admitting legal malpractice can hurt you. To be sure, it can violate your malpractice insurance policy. Many legal malpractice insurance policies have “no admissions” clauses that will not cover situations where you admit to legal malpractice.
Do not brush off the threat of legal malpractice
While the above point indicated that you should not overreact and admit to doing something you may not have done, we also encourage that you not be too lax in your response, or lack thereof, to a potential claim. Remember that your legal malpractice insurance policy likely requires you to provide them with timely notice of a claim in order to prevent a claim denial.
Do not sue first as a strategy
Often, an unhappy client has neglected to pay their attorney for services rendered. An attorney who knows that a client is considering a legal malpractice claim may want to take control of the pending proceedings by suing the client for payment. If your only reason for filing a suit for payment is to secure a favorable forum for your case, you should rethink your strategy; this method absolutely materializes the possibility of litigation of a claim that may not have needed to go this far. You often lose your chance to solve the issue in a less expensive way.
Ensure that you have obtained your insurer’s consent before finalizing any settlements
If you have an opportunity to appropriately settle a case that merits it, it is important that you not ruin the opportunity by settling without the permission of your legal malpractice insurance carrier. Most policies do not allow an attorney to do so and it is important that you check in with them to avoid denial of your claim or denial of further coverage.
It may seem overwhelming to have to deal with a problematic client who does not want to pay and who wants to file a legal malpractice claim due to a lack of satisfaction with their case, often accompanied by unrealistic expectations. While we know that attorneys are our peers, we suggest that every attorney find an attorney of their own to help them through this process. As your colleagues, our West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig, LLP are more than capable of helping you work through your legal malpractice problems in Florida.