Are You a Victim of Legal Malpractice in Ohio?

November 19, 2012

Legal Malpractice

Legal Malpractice and Lawyer Malpractice in OhioLegal Malpractice in Ohio

Legal malpractice is legal negligence on the part of a lawyer representing a client.  The issue is whether the attorney exercised the degree of care, skill and diligence that a lawyer of ordinary skill and knowledge commonly possess and exercises in a particular area of law.  If a lawyer claims to be an expert in that area of law, he or she is held to the standard of an “ordinary” expert.

In other words, legal malpractice occurs when the lawyer has failed to render competent, professional service to a client.  However, to be successful in a legal malpractice claim, you must prove that the attorney’s actions damaged you in some way and that you would have won the case if the attorney had conducted himself differently.  If the case did not turn out as you had hoped or you lost, this does not automatically mean your attorney committed lawyer malpractice.

To prove legal malpractice, you must prove four points:

1. Your attorney owed you a duty to act properly.

2. Your attorney breached that duty by acting negligently.

3. You would have won the case if the attorney had acted properly.

4. You suffered a financial loss or damages.

The three major theories of liability that comprise legal malpractice are:  negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract.  Negligence is the most common underlying reason for legal malpractice.  For example, an attorney fails to take action and a statute of limitations expires or an attorney fails to respond to motions filed in court or attend court hearings.

Fiduciary duty is the legal obligation one has to act in the best interest of another.  It is a relationship of trust and confidence which is anticipated to develop when an attorney manages and protects the property and monetary assets of another.  A breach of fiduciary duty between an attorney and his clientarises when a lawyer does something like improperly benefitting from the representation of a client or improperly retaining the client’s funds.

A breach of contract occurs when the lawyer does not uphold the retainer agreement.  This agreement is the contractual agreement that defines the relationship between the lawyer and the client and should be provided to the client by the lawyer at the onset of the attorney-client relationship.

Legal malpractice by an Ohio attorney can fall into one of three categories, or all three of them:

  • Legal Malpractice
  • Criminal Action
  • Violation of Lawyer Ethical Standards

Stealing from a client falls under all three of the categories.  Forgetting to file a case within the statute of limitations, or forgetting a court date, is not criminal, but violates a lawyer’s ethical standards and may constitute legal malpractice.  Breaching ethical standards is a violation of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct and could be a matter to report to the State of Ohio Disciplinary Counsel.

Legal Malpractice Statute of Limitations

A legal malpractice statute of limitations sets limits on how much time you have to file a civil lawsuit.  One cannot file after the statute of limitations has run out. The deadline to file legal malpractice is one year from the date on which the cause of action accrued.  This may be the date you were last represented by the lawyer or it could be one year from the date you discovered or should have discovered you were injured as a result of lawyer malpractice, whichever occurs later.

The date on which you “should have discovered” that you may have a basis for legal malpractice is subject to argument.  Therefore, as soon as you believe you may have a potential malpractice claim, you should contact a legal malpractice lawyer.

Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 2305.11(A) defines the legal malpractice statute of   limitations.

There are many other types of claims that fit the definition of legal malpractice.  If you believe you have been injured as a result of your lawyer’s conduct, it is important to discuss the facts of your case with a legal malpractice lawyer skilled at evaluating such legal negligence claims.

Legal malpractice can be a difficult claim to prove, so it may not be wise to try to proceed without a legal malpractice attorney to help you. Because the statute of limitations is short, it is important not to delay if you believe you have experienced legal malpractice.

Call the legal malpractice lawyers at Slater & Zurz LLP at 1-888-534-4850 or go to our website, and fill out the FREE CASE REVIEW at the top of the page.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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One Comment on “Are You a Victim of Legal Malpractice in Ohio?”

  1. legal malpractice Says:

    Good information, very concise overview of the legal malpractice process in Ohio.


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