Arizona Legal Malpractice Attorney

Legal malpractice refers to an attorney inappropriately handling a case by failing to fulfill legal industry standards. The attorney-client relationship comes with certain duties of care and expectations. Breaching these duties through an act of negligence or intent to harm, causing damages to the client, is legal malpractice. Proving legal malpractice could result in compensation for your financial losses.

If you believe you were the victim of legal malpractice, we understand that it can be difficult to trust an attorney again. In such a situation, you should look to an established Arizona legal malpractice lawyer with decades of experience to help you. The Law Offices of Kenneth E. Chase, P.C. has many years of positive case results and satisfied clients supporting us as one of the most reputable and trustworthy law firms in the state. Working with Ken Chase in the pursuit of your damages as a legal malpractice victim will help you feel validated, supported, and heard. We will efficiently help you pursue your claim against a negligent lawyer with the goal of obtaining full recovery of your losses. Call (480) 423-5800 to schedule a consultation about your case today.

What Is Legal Malpractice?

Any action or inaction that causes a lawyer or other legal professional to breach his or her duties of care to a client can be considered legal malpractice. A lost case or mistake by an attorney isn’t necessarily malpractice, but handling a case inappropriately and against established rules and practices may be grounds for malpractice. Strict legal industry standards determine what a lawyer can and cannot do when handling a client’s legal matter. If an attorney-client relationship exists, the attorney breached a duty to you, and you suffered financial or other losses as a result, you may be a victim of legal malpractice and entitled to recovery of your losses.

A lawyer might commit legal malpractice negligently or, in rare cases, intentionally. Negligence-based malpractice can stem from incompetence, inexperience, carelessness, avoidable mistakes, an unintentional breach of contract or conflict of interest, taking on too many cases at once, or lawyer burnout. An attorney might think he or she can handle a case, only to realize it may be well outside the scope of their knowledge or ability. If the attorney drops the case without reason or continues to mishandle it, well aware of their inability, this may be an act of legal malpractice.

In less common cases, a lawyer may intentionally take advantage of a client and harm their case, often for their own financial benefit. Missing deadlines, knowingly taking on a case that is a conflict of interest with another client, or intentionally making mistakes that will hurt the client but help the attorney are examples of intentional legal malpractice. The moment you suspect your attorney of committing malpractice, contact us. Our Phoenix legal malpractice attorney has the experience, the case results, and client testimonials to support our reputation for integrity, and a law firm that you can trust.

Types of Legal Malpractice in Phoenix

Legal malpractice can take many shapes and forms. The most common cases involving legal malpractice are those in the areas of litigation, real estate, family law, business transactions, and contractual matters. If any of the following scenarios sound familiar, you may have grounds to file a legal malpractice claim in Arizona:

  • Negligence. Formally defined, “negligence” refers to any action or inaction that a reasonable, competent attorney would not have made in the same situation. Neglecting one’s professional duties or failing to meet the standard of care in an attorney-client relationship, resulting in harm to the client, could justify a lawsuit for legal malpractice. We can help you prove negligence through case investigation and retaining highly qualified expert witnesses to testify.
  • Breach of fiduciary duty. An attorney has an obligation to act in the best interest of their clients. This is known as fiduciary duty. When an attorney breaks that trust and puts the interests of other parties or themselves above their own clients, it is considered a breach of fiduciary duty. The law holds attorneys to the highest standards of fiduciary care, going above and beyond just what a reasonable lawyer would do. Failing to inform a client of a conflict of interest, or doing something that helps the attorney but hurts the client, are both examples of breaches of fiduciary duties.
  • Conflict of interest. A lawyer is under a legal obligation to reveal any potential conflicts of interest to a client before agreeing to provide legal representation. If there is a risk to the client’s legal matter because of the lawyer’s duties to another client or his or her own interests, the lawyer must disclose the potential conflict to the client. Because conflicts of interest can be subjective, this is a complex area of law that requires attention from an experienced attorney.
  • Abandonment. If your lawyer withdrew from representation in the middle of a case, you may have a legal malpractice claim. Even if the attorney cited a conflict of interest in withdrawing from your claim, this may be a cover-up for malpractice. An experienced attorney has the knowledge necessary to investigate matters of abandonment to determine if there was malpractice. If so, you may be entitled to recover your financial losses and other damages.
  • Breach of contract. If your attorney violated any specific provisions or terms in your fee or retention contract, resulting in the loss of your case or any damages, they may be held liable for malpractice. Over billing, failing to keep you updated about your case, settling your case without your permission, or otherwise violating the specific terms of your contract may support a legal malpractice claim in Arizona.

Ultimately, attorneys are human and can make mistakes in handling your case – but that does not mean that you automatically have a legal malpractice claim. It is when a lawyer makes decisions based on selfish motivations, intent to harm, or due to negligence, that a legal malpractice case may be warranted. For an in-depth review of your individual claim with Mr. Chase, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Arizona Legal Malpractice Statutes of Limitations

According to Arizona law, a lawyer must act according to the best interests of his or her client. Failure to do so in any given situation may constitute legal malpractice. Should you have grounds to file a claim against a negligent attorney, Arizona law generally gives you two years from the date of the alleged harm to pursue your claim. Under certain circumstances, the two years does not begin until you discover the negligent act or sustain actual harm. However, you should seek proper representation from an experienced legal malpractice attorney immediately upon your suspicion of your attorney’s wrongful act.

In the case of attorney fraud, you have three years to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations for attorney breach of contract is longer at six years. However, in many cases this time period begins the moment a client knows, or reasonably should have known, about the attorney’s misconduct. Due to the variable nature of the legal malpractice deadline for filing, it is important to speak to an experienced legal malpractice attorney at the earliest possible opportunity in order to preserve your prospective claim.

Missing your time limit is a potentially fatal mistake that could forfeit your right to file a lawsuit. This is the case even if you have evidence of a lawyer’s malpractice. In that event, the court will not hear your case, and your right to recovery for any loss will be forever barred. Contact our Phoenix attorney, Ken Chase, immediately upon suspecting legal malpractice, in order to preserve your right to assert a claim and file a lawsuit.

Proving Legal Malpractice in Arizona

There are four main elements to a successful legal malpractice suit:

  • The attorney owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
  • The attorney breached this duty of care.
  • The attorney’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff harm.
  • The plaintiff suffered real damages as a result of the attorney’s breach of duty.

Because the defendant in these cases is often an experienced legal professional, establishing legal malpractice may be especially difficult. As such, it is imperative that you retain the services of an attorney well-versed and experienced in legal malpractice cases.

Proving a legal malpractice case first requires evidence that the lawyer in question promised or agreed to give you legal advice or representation. This agreement creates an attorney-client relationship in which the attorney owed you “competent and skillful” representation as a client. A written contract typically exists between an attorney and his/her client, and in Arizona it is ethically required. However, implied and verbal contracts may also exist. It may be enough to prove that you had reason to believe a relationship existed at the time of the alleged wrongdoing.

You must also have evidence that the attorney failed to exercise due care and diligence in representing you, causing you actual damage or loss. “Due care” generally means choosing a legal strategy, giving advice , or otherwise acting in good faith and within the appropriate standard of care for your legal matter. If a “reasonable and prudent” attorney would have made a different decision in similar circumstances, the attorney may be liable for legal malpractice.

What Damages Are Recoverable in a Legal Malpractice Lawsuit?

In Arizona, plaintiffs may seek recovery for economic and non-economic damages caused by the negligent attorney. This can include attorney’s fees paid to the attorney, attorney fees paid to another attorney in an attempt to correct the errors of the first attorney, legal costs, and other related financial losses. The exact damages available will vary depending upon the specifics of the case. A knowledgeable attorney experienced in legal malpractice claims can maximize your recovery through this process and ensure that you receive the damages that you rightfully deserve.

Contact Us To Schedule A Legal Malpractice Consultation in Arizona

The Law Offices of Kenneth E. Chase, P.C. is passionate about protecting the rights of clients in Arizona. We know how damaging legal malpractice can be to its victims. It is our mission to protect and assert the rights of those who have been victimized as a result of attorney malpractice. Ken Chase can help you in your pursuit of your legal malpractice claim. To learn more about your potential case, call us at (480) 423-5800 or contact us online.