What compensation is available for victims of legal malpractice?

If you have a pressing legal matter, you may feel some anxiety. After all, not only can the law be tough to understand, but it can also have some serious consequences. Working with a knowledgeable attorney is typically an effective way to put your mind at ease. Unfortunately, lawyers sometimes make the sort of mistakes that cause you significant harm.

If you are the victim of legal malpractice, you may be able to bring a cause of action against your attorney. You should understand, however, that you likely only have a limited time to act. Nonetheless, before doing anything, you probably want to know what compensation is available. While every situation is different, the following parameters typically apply to malpractice suits:

The underlying claim 

Arguably, the most significant compensation for victims of legal malpractice is the value of the underlying claim. If you can prove you would have won a case or received a larger amount but for the actions of your attorney, you may be able to receive the total benefit.

Emotional distress 

If you have a claim for economic loss, you probably cannot also pursue compensation for emotional distress. Nonetheless, damages for emotional distress are independently available in certain limited circumstances.


Typically, legal malpractice lawsuits do not allow for punitive damages. On the other hand, if your attorney engaged in deliberate, willful and wanton conduct that was virtually certain to result in damage, a court may try to punish the lawyer by awarding you compensation.

Legal fees 

Finally, under a malpractice theory, you usually cannot recover legal fees you paid to your attorney. You may be able to recover them through an ordinary breach of contract suit, however. Similarly, you cannot pursue compensation for the fees you pay the attorney to bring a malpractice suit against your former lawyer.

Even though most lawyers do a good job representing their clients, some attorneys make critical errors. If an error causes you harm, you may be able to bring a legal malpractice suit. By understanding the sort of compensation that is and is not available, you can better plan your strategy.