What are the potential resolutions of legal malpractice disputes?

Lawyers are, by definition, the defendants in disputes over legal mistakes in California, but insurance companies also bear part of the risk in these situations. While the defendant attorney in your case might handle the negotiation and litigation personally, his or her insurance provider could also take an investigative, representative or support role for the defense. This involvement of a third party increases the variety of potential outcomes for your legal malpractice claim.

According to a study published in the Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series, your claim might resolve in one of the following ways:

  • Settlement during your court proceedings
  • Court decision to award damages to you
  • Successful motion to dismiss executed by the defense
  • Settlement before your suit due to favorable insurance investigation findings
  • Abandonment of your claim due to insurance investigation findings unfavorable to your case

As evidenced by the final two items on this list, the defendant attorney’s insurance company has the potential to play a major role in the fate of your claim. In fact, the Duke study shows that a mere 20.4 percent of sampled malpractice claims went to court from 2008-2011, with less than 30 percent in suit from 1996-2007.

In conclusion, your legal malpractice case might result in the recovery of damages caused by incompetent representation. It may also end in your own abandonment of the claim or its formal dismissal. Regardless of the eventual outcome, you may reasonably expect the defendant’s insurance company to take an active role in resolving the dispute. Please use this resource for informational purposes rather than as legal advice; it is intended neither to guide formal action nor to influence legal decision.