Clients rely on lawyers and law firms to know the law and give them proper advice. Unfortunately, some lawyers take on cases that involve issues they are not familiar with, or the law firm the lawyer works for fails to supervise the lawyer, or assigns an unqualified lawyer to work on the client’s case. Under Florida law, you have two years from the date you knew or should have known of the lawyer’s malpractice to sue. Therefore, if you think you are the victim of legal malpractice then you need to contact Ben Murphey immediately. Legal malpractice cases involve a wide range of issues like:
Soliciting or Running Clients: In most instances in Florida, it is illegal for a lawyer to directly solicit business from a client. That practice is also called running. People who are involved in auto crashes are often solicited by runners working for unethical lawyers. The runner could be a tow truck driver, and anonymous caller, a hospital nurse, or a doctor. Sometimes the lawyer who solicited the case refers the case to another lawyer. It is illegal for a lawyer to take a fee on an improperly solicited case. That rule also applies to any lawyer that the case is referred to. If you were solicited and paid fees to a lawyer then it may be possible to get that money back.
Improper billing: One of the most common disputes between a client and lawyer is the amount of the bill. Many lawyers bill in blocks of time that give an unfair overpayment to the lawyer. Some lawyers simply lie about the amount of time spent on a task. Another improper practice is billing multiple clients for the same work. For example, a lawyer goes to court for hearings on three files and bills the entire time to each file. Billing clients a flat fee per month for copies, faxes, etc. is also improper. There are many other types of wrongful billing practices that can form the basis of a legal malpractice case. If you think your lawyer overbilled you, then call Ben Murphey today.
Transactional Mistakes: Clients rely on lawyers to write up estate plans, wills, give tax advice, organize businesses, and prepare numerous other types of legal documents. Often times when the client goes to enforce the document he or she learns the lawyer made a mistake. Those mistakes could cause the client to lose valuable legal rights or cost the client tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The lawyer’s mistakes could also affect the rights of third parties like the intended beneficiaries of a will. If you or a family member were harmed by a lawyer’s failure to properly prepare a document then you should contact Mr. Murphey to discuss your case.
Improper Pre-Suit Handling: Lawyers must investigate a case before filing a lawsuit and advise the client on the possible outcomes. That means a lawyer must explain to the client all of the bad things that may result from filing a lawsuit. The lawyer must fully investigate the facts and the law so the client can make an informed decision on how he or she wants to proceed. A lawsuit is not always the best way to solve a client’s problem. If your lawyer advised you to file a lawsuit and the lawyer you’re your case then you may have been the victim of legal malpractice. An improper pre-suit investigation may also cause a client to have to settle a case for undervalue and pay higher attorney’s fees and costs. Lawyers make many other types of pre-suit mistakes like failing to secure evidence and witnesses. If you think your lawyer failed to properly handle your case in the pre-suit phase then you should call Mr. Murphey.
Missing a Filing Deadline: Florida’s statutes of limitation give a limited amount of time to sue for certain things. For example, you must file a lawsuit for breach of contract within five years of the breach. Sometimes a lawyer incorrectly calculates the deadline for filing, or diaries the deadline on the wrong date. A lawyer may tell a client he or she has four years to sue for injuries suffered in a boat crash at sea when the client only has three years to sue. Another way a deadline can be missed is when the lawyer gives the lawsuit to his or her support staff too close to the deadline and the lawsuit is filed late. If your lawyer failed to timely file your claim then you should call Mr. Murphey today.
Failing to Advise to Settle: In most cases, there are multiple opportunities to settle before going to trial. Mediation and Proposals for Settlement are just two examples of how the defense may offer to settle your case. When any offer is made to settle your case, your lawyer should advise you on the estimated value of your case, remind you of the pros and cons of your case, and tell you if he or she thinks you should accept the offer. Ultimately the decision to settle belongs to you, but your lawyer must give you all the information you need to make an informed decision on whether to settle your case or go to trial. If your lawyer was unprepared at mediation, failed to tell you about a Proposal for Settlement, or failed to tell you to settle your case and you later lost, then you should contact Ben Murphey and have him review your case.
Mistakes with Proposals for Settlement: Under Florida law, usually you are not required to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees if you lose your case. Some exceptions to that rule are when you sue under a contract that provides for fees, under a statute that provides for fees, or when the other side sends you a Proposal for Settlement. Sometimes, the jury could return a verdict in your favor but you could still be required to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees. That could happen when the other side sends you a Proposal for Settlement.
A Proposal for Settlement is a written offer to settle your case. You have thirty days to accept the Proposal unless the party who sent it revokes the Proposal. If you do not accept the Proposal and you obtain a judgment that is 25 percent less than the amount of the Proposal then you may be required to pay the attorney’s fees and costs of the party who sent you the Proposal, from the date the Proposal was sent. Your lawyer must be able to tell you if the Proposal sent to you is valid and if you should accept it. Your lawyer must also tell you there is insurance available to protect you from an attorney’s fee award under a Proposal.
The law allows either side in a state court lawsuit to send a Proposal and potentially recover some of its attorney’s fees and costs. In some cases in federal court that is also true. However, Proposals are not valid in maritime cases and cases involving equitable claims, to name a few. Therefore, your lawyer must advise you if he or she thinks you should send a Proposal in your case. If your lawyer does not do that then you could lose the ability to have the other side pay some of your attorney’s fees. That could result in you receiving less than full and fair compensation for your damages. If you were required to pay attorney’s fees under a Proposal for Settlement, or you won your case but your lawyer did not tell you to send a Proposal for Settlement then you should call Mr. Murphey and have him review your case.
Failing to Prepare for Trial: Trials are often the last chance you have to hold the other side accountable for what they did to you, and they require an enormous amount of preparation. Evidence must be obtained, disclosed to the other side, and prepared for trial. Experts and witnesses must be scheduled and served with a trial subpoena. Your lawyer must also prepare you and your witnesses to testify in front of the jury. Testifying in court is different than answering questions in a deposition. Many other things must occur for a case to be ready for trial. Your lawyer must begin preparing your case for trial before the lawsuit is even filed. Waiting until after mediation to start preparing a case for trial is never acceptable.
Clients often do not attend pre-trial hearings or depositions with their lawyer. Therefore, it is not until trial that most clients learn how good or bad their lawyer really is. Some lawyers are not comfortable talking to the judge and jury. Other lawyers may good public speakers but make weak impromptu opening and closing statements. Some lawyers simply are not prepared for trial, or make legal errors that affect the outcome. As a result,
If you think your lawyer committed malpractice during the trial of your case then you should contact Mr. Murphey immediately in South Florida at 954-587-0873.58