How Do You Win a Legal Malpractice Case?

You have called up an attorney to discuss the problem. You were in a law suit, or hired an attorney to handle a financial transaction, and it went bad. It probably went really really bad, and you wonder what to do now. How do you take care of the problem, and what do you do?

Let’s take a familiar case and look at what you should do if there are problems. Let’s say that you were a passenger in a car and the car was hit by a bus. Wow, that’s a bad situation. You are injured, and the ambulance takes you to the hospital. You are treated in the ER and they tell you that you broke your arm. You wind up in a cast, and out of work for 3 weeks. It hurts, and you hurt. So you go to the attorney, and have a meeting.

The attorney meets with you and promises the world. You’ll get a lot of money, and you’ll get free medical care and you’ll get money from the No Fault carrier to cover you while you are out of work. You agree to a contingent retainer agreement, and the attorney agrees to represent you for one-third of whatever is recovered. All good so far?

Right now, the attorney has to do a bunch of things. He has to apply for no-fault benefits and has to watch for notices for you to answer questions about the accident, to appear for a no-fault examination, and to get you to the doctor right away, so that you can prove your injuries.

He has to determine who owns the vehicles, and sue both of them. This is true, even if the car in which you were riding was your friends. If the bus is owned by a government or an agency, the attorney has to file a notice of claim within a short period of time. The attorney has to file a summons and complaint and commence an action, all within specific periods of time.

Let’s assume that something goes wrong and you need to speak with a legal malpractice attorney. That attorney has to do many of the same things. He has to determine when your statute of limitations runs out, and he has to file and serve a summons and complaint within a specific time. He has to follow up, and get the case going in court.

What should you do? You should ask the attorney for a copy of the retainer agreement and for a schedule of what has to be done. You should get specific dates. As an example, the attorney should tell you when the complaint will be ready for you to review. He should tell you when the summons and complaint has to be filed and served. He should tell you when the answer is due. He should tell you whether to go to a specific doctor, and when he expects to get all of your medical records.

Ask for this schedule, and make sure to write the attorney asking if the timeline is being followed.