What You Want To Know About Legal Malpractice
Legal malpractice is one of the fastest-growing practice areas of The Law Offices of Sanford F. Young P.C. in New York and New Jersey. The law firm is often called upon to render second legal opinions and evaluate fee disputes involving lawyers’ offices. The law firm also has a strong appellate practice. In the process of evaluating a case, legal malpractice on the part of another lawyer is sometimes glaringly evident.
Legal malpractice can occur in any and all types of legal matters when handled by a careless, incompetent, lazy or unscrupulous lawyer, including:
- Complex litigation and appeals
- Divorce, matrimonial and other domestic disputes and cases
- Personal injury claims and lawsuits
- Automobile accident injury claims
- Premises liability lawsuits
- Product liability claims
- Medical malpractice suits
- Any litigation or appellate matter
- Business planning
- Regulatory, governmental or environmental compliance
Contact The Law Offices of Sanford F. Young P.C. to schedule a consultation regarding a potential legal malpractice or other professional malpractice claim.
Malpractice can occur in dozens of ways, including:
- Missed deadlines
- Failure to file suit within the required statute of limitations
- Failure to timely file a notice of claim on the U.S., state, city or other government units or agencies
- Not complying with court rules, orders and directions
- Missing court dates, not appearing in court
- Making improper or missing critical legal arguments, claims or defenses
- Gross incompetency and errors of judgment
- Failing to timely file or perfect appeals
- Creating invalid, unenforceable or faulty contracts/agreements
- Neglecting governmental rules and regulations
- Improper advice
- Filing false and invalid claims
Malpractice can occur through negligence and carelessness. Malpractice can also be the result of a lawyer’s fraud and deception. Lawyers and law firms are sometimes guilty of the following wrongdoings:
- Diverting money that should be held in escrow
- Stealing funds
- Conflicts of interest or other ethical violations
What are some of the telltale signs of possible malpractice?
- You have not heard anything about your case within 1-2 months after you retained your lawyer
- You have not heard from your lawyer for over nine months (or less) after they started your case
- Your calls are not taken or returned, and your letters or e-mails are ignored
- You suddenly learn or are told that your case was dismissed or otherwise lost even though there were no pending court motions or applications (such as a “motion to dismiss” or “motion for summary judgment”) or a trial or appeal
- In a personal injury or medical malpractice case, your lawyer or his staff have not asked you detailed questions about your accident, injury or losses within the first nine months of the case
- The case is pending for more than a year without your being asked to appear for a deposition, provide an affidavit or other documents
- The case is pending for more than two years without some word on when it will be tried
- You hired the lawyer to handle an appeal, and have not heard anything for nine months
- You hired the lawyer to handle a business transaction or contractual matter, and have not hear from them within a month (or less)
- In a real estate, matrimonial or domestic matter, you have not heard from the lawyer within 1-2 weeks (or possibly less)
- The lawyer or firm disappears, or moves without leaving a forwarding address
- The lawyer is suspended or disbarred from practicing law, filed for bankruptcy or is indicted or convicted of a serious crime
- Your lawyer retired or died and has not arranged for anyone to take over his practice and your case
- If the lawyer is shuttling your case from firm-to-firm without explaining why
- You are coerced into taking a poor settlement without adequate explanation
- If something significant in your case does not make sense or “sounds fishy”
*Note: the time periods when a client should hear about any particular case varies enormously. Not hearing from the lawyer within these time periods does not mean that anything is wrong, but are merely our guidelines on when you should call the lawyer and verify what they are doing with your case.
What is the statute of limitations for bringing a malpractice suit against your lawyer?
- In New York, generally a lawsuit must be filed within three years of when the malpractice occurred, with minor exceptions.
- In New Jersey, a lawsuit must be filed within six years of when the malpractice occurred.
Follow this link to see examples of notable malpractice suits and information. To schedule a consultation with attorney Young regarding a case of suspected attorney negligence, call or e-mail The Law Offices of Sanford F. Young P.C..