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Legal Malpractice And Punitive And Emotional Distress Awards
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Lawsuits that involve attorney negligence typically involve recovering compensatory damages from subpar legal representation. The courts will sometimes also award punitive damages to the plaintiff as a result of a lawyer’s breach of his fiduciary duties. These types of lawsuits are referred to as "legal malpractice" cases brought by legal malpractice attorneys.
Most often, the damage awards are based on actual loss. An example is when an individual loses a medical malpractice case, where $200,000 in lifetime medical expenses and lost income was sustained as a result of the malpractice. If the medical malpractice attorney who represented the plaintiff in the original lawsuit failed to provide services consistent with the standard of care expected of all attorneys – i.e., use of qualified expert testimony, adherence to rules of the court, meet all statutes of limitation, bring all relevant evidence to trial – that attorney can be sued if he or she lost the case because of the lawyer negligence or lack of ethics.
Using the same example, if the plaintiff suffered emotionally as a result of the original case – and the case is found to have been lost due to attorney negligence the client would be entitled to emotional distress damages. If the lawyer was found to have had a conflict of interest while representing the plaintiff punitive damages may be imposed. Punitive damages are when one or more of the following factors can be proven by clear and convincing evidence:
As with all cases of legal malpractice, a material connection between these factors (oppression, fraud, malice and negligence) needs to be connected to the negative judgment in the original case.
A legal malpractice attorney can correct for past poor representation
Legal malpractice cases are serious cases that can result in the award or loss of many thousands of dollars depending on the outcome. If you believe that you have suffered damage due to a negligent attorney, it would be worth your while to first research and hire a prominent and experienced personal injury lawyer who specializes in prosecuting other attorneys for legal malpractice. These attorneys can oftentimes be found online calling themselves “legal malpractice attorneys”, a good sign that suing other lawyers lies in their areas of practice.
R. Klettke is a freelance writer. He writes about personal injury and medical malpractice law and other matters of jurisprudence.
Important Advisory: This article is not intended to provide legal advice upon which you or anyone else should rely in making any decisions regarding the instituting or prosecuting of a legal claim. Laws and rules relating to the bringing of a claim vary widely from state to state. You should always contact a personal injury attorney to obtain information as to the rules and the laws pertaining to any claim you might have.
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