The consequences of legal malpractice

Just as the medical malpractice law allows patients to to receive compensation for medical errors, the legal malpractice law states that a client can seek compensation when an attorney has failed to fulfill a duty to assist the client. Legal malpractice in California often arises from an attorney’s failure to sign legal documents that are crucial to a client’s case, or in an attorney’s error regarding legal documents. Regardless of the type of error, legal malpractice typically results in negative financial consequences of the client, as well as delayed actions in a case. 

The California Law Revision Commission provides a document regarding the Statute of Limitations for Legal Malpractice. According to the document, a client who has experienced legal malpractice may have to sue the attorney for the apparent misconduct before final resolution of the underlying matter. While this option does lead to potential resolvement, such actions can be expensive for the plaintiff, and can lead to other legal complications. Also similar to medical malpractice, in which the patient must take action within a certain time period after a medical error occurs, the client must file legal malpractice actions within one year from the date of actual or constructive discovery. The statute also reads that a client must bring the case within four years of the incident.

A legal malpractice article on Findlaw also states that in a legal malpractice case, an attorney must have been negligent or in breach of a contract. Unlike all other states, California does not practice the American Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct, which is another set of legal guidelines an attorney can violate. An example of a breach of contract includes commingling, which is an attorney’s act of combining funds of his client or beneficiary with his or her own funds, and general neglect, which consists of a disregard of duty resulting from carelessness or indifference.