How Do You Prove a Legal Malpractice Claim?
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How Do You Prove a Legal Malpractice Claim in St. Louis, Missouri?
There are three elements you need to demonstrate in order to prove negligence in any civil claim, including legal malpractice:
1. An Attorney-Client Relationship Existed
In any tort claim, you must demonstrate that there was a duty of care, meaning that someone had a responsibility toward you. In a legal malpractice claim, that means establishing that an attorney-client relationship existed. This step is as easy as producing a contract. If you did not have an attorney-client relationship, for example if you got bad advice from a lawyer at a dinner party or from some you read on their website, you would not be able to make a legal malpractice claim.
2. Breach of Duty
You then must demonstrate that that duty of care was violated. That can mean that the lawyer was negligent, breached your contract, is guilty of misconduct or breached their fiduciary duty. This can sometimes be difficult to prove and will be hotly contested by the defendant. They will try to claim that a reasonable and prudent lawyer would have taken the same steps that they had.
3. Causation and Damages
Finally, your legal malpractice attorney must demonstrate that the negligence or misconduct on the part of the lawyer caused you financial damages. This is often the most challenging step as it depends on the "case-within-a-case" doctrine. That means that you must prove two claims: the legal malpractice claim you are currently making and the case underlying the malpractice action.
For example, say you are suing a lawyer because they did not properly apply premises liability law that was central to your slip and fall claim. As a result, a jury finds in favor of the property owner and you did not recover any compensation for the injuries they caused. In order to win your malpractice claim, you and your legal malpractice attorney will have to demonstrate both that the property owner was indeed liable for your injuries and that the outcome would have been different were it not for your lawyer's negligence.
You can also file a legal malpractice claim if you were the defendant in a different case. For example, in a defective products case, a vendor can only be held liable for a dangerous product if the manufacturer is not known or no longer exists. If you are found liable for somebody's injuries because a negligent lawyer in St. Louis or Missouri did not try to locate the manufacturer, you may have a legal malpractice claim and you might be able to collect the compensation that you were ordered to pay out.
Fortunately, your legal malpractice attorney at Burger Law has experience litigating and winning all types of civil cases in St. Louis and throughout Missouri including auto accidents, medical malpractice, product liability, workers' compensation, dog bites, labor and wage claims and more. We know how to hold negligent actors of all types responsible and get the affected parties the compensation they are owed.
How to File a Legal Malpractice Claim
How to File a Legal Malpractice Claim in St. Louis and Missouri
Most people do not have much experience with the legal process, let alone with filing a lawsuit against someone who was supposed to be their legal advocate. If you believe you have been subjected to legal malpractice, you should immediately:
- Fire your lawyer — If you still have an attorney-client relationship, terminate it so they do not cause more harm than they already have.
- Gather all of your records — Organize all the records you have concerning your previous case and communication with your former lawyer. According to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 4-1.22, attorneys must retain client files for six years. So if you cannot find all of your records, you can request them.
- Research legal malpractice attorneys — You obviously do not want to get burned by a lawyer again. It is always worth it to take the time and find a trustworthy and knowledgeable lawyer who will truly stand by your side when you need them to. Look up reviews, talk to family and friends and even call several lawyers to get a feel for how they will treat you and how they will operate.
- Consult with a legal malpractice attorney — Once you have chosen a new attorney, meet with them to discuss how best to move forward with your case. They may advise seeking an arbitration hearing with the other lawyer or immediately file suit. They may even suggest filing a claim with the Missouri Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel.
- Follow the advice of your legal malpractice attorney — While an ethical attorney will always let you make your own decision for how to proceed, it is important to understand your options and any limitations in your claim once you have found an attorney you can trust. As your dedicated legal representative, Burger Law’s legal malpractice lawyers are diligent in presenting and pursing every possible avenue for legal rememdy in your case and always offer sound, carefully weighed counsel to help you make the right decision.
At Burger Law, our legal malpractice team is always honest and always puts one hundred percent of our knowledge, dedication and experience into every case. Our clients matter to us, and we work to keep you consistently informed and give you all the information you need in order to make the best decision for you and your family in St. Louis or anywhere in Missouri. When you hire us, we start working on your case right away, and handle all investigation, documentation and litigation so you can be sure your claim is in good hands. We will not let a negligent attorney get away with cheating you of the legal advocacy you deserve. We are the highest- and most-reviewed law firm in St. Louis, Missouri and throughout the Midwest. Speak to a legal malpractice lawyer today at (314) 500-HURT.
How Long Do I Have to File a Legal Malpractice Claim?
How Long Do I Have to File a Legal Malpractice Claim in Missouri?
The state of Missouri's statute of limitations is the same for almost all tort claims, such as personal injury claims. Generally speaking:
- According to Missouri Revised Statute §516.120, you have five years from the date of the legal malpractice in St. Louis or elsewhere in Missouri.
- If you were under the age of 21 at the time of the legal malpractice, or were mentally incapacitated at the time, Missouri Revised Statute §516.170 states that you have five years after the date you turn 21 or that your "legal disability" ends.
While five years may seem like a long time, legal malpractice cases are complicated, and your claim will be vigorously defended against. That is why it is best to reach out to an ethical and determined legal malpractice attorney in St. Louis right away. At Burger Law, our team will fight for you and aggressively pursue the justice and financial compensation you deserve.