Professional Liability Insurance News & Information

What could cause a lawyer to be sued by a client?

Mar 7

3/7/2014 3:46 AM  RssIcon

Lawyers can be sued by clients
Lawyers can be sued by clients
Lawyers are hired on a daily basis to help clients win a wide variety of cases. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to a client suing his or her lawyer. To help deal with this professional liability risk, lawyers need to be aware of some reasons why a lawsuit could be filed against them. 

Negligence: When lawyers are sued, one of the most common claims is negligence. One example of a legal professional being negligent is providing poor advice to a client that leads to a lost case or financial damages. This type of claim could also be made if an action the attorney takes ends up creating a conflict of interest between the two parties. However, it may not be easy to prove negligence, as clients have to show a court that the lawyer did not use a reasonable degree of care in his or her actions. 

Malpractice: Another common claim made against legal professionals is malpractice. This includes a variety of claims, ranging from if a lawyer stops working on a client's case, or if the case is thrown out by the court because the attorney did not do his or her work. Legal clients looking to win a malpractice lawsuit should be prepared for a long battle, as proving this isn't easy. According to Nolo, there are four things that need to be proven to win such a case:

  • Clients must provide evidence that shows the attorney owed them a duty to act properly
  • Clients must show that the lawyer breached that duty, such as making a mistake, or not agreeing what they said they would do
  • Clients must prove that the conduct committed by the lawyer hurt them financially
  • Clients must prove that the financial damage resulted in losses

If all four of these things can be proven in a court of law, legal clients have a good chance of winning their case. Otherwise, it is probably best not to waste money on legal fees. 

Fraud: If an attorney attempts to defraud clients, they are putting themselves at risk of being sued. One example of committing fraud is making a misrepresentation that he or she knows if false with the intent that a client will act on it. Failing to disclose facts that could help a client's case could also be considered fraud in a court of law. 

For the most part, lawyers take on clients to assist them in winning a case. But, there are some that may commit an act - knowingly or unknowingly - that hurts the chances of a client victory. Therefore, it is probably best for legal professionals to brush up on industry best risk management practices before taking on any client, so they are aware of what should be done to reduce the chances of being sued. 

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