Avoiding Legal Malpractice: Common Claims

As a lawyer, you are subjected to various types of risks simply due to the nature of your work. It’s the sole obligation of the lawyer to understand and interpret the law as it applies to their client’s case. While you might have the best intentions, mistakes and negligence do happen. Therefore, in addition to protecting your operation and your firm with an Indianapolis Lawyer Malpractice Insurance policy, heed the following advice for preventing malpractice claims.

Understand your biggest exposures.

According to the American Bar Association, the 10 most common legal malpractice claims are, in order:

  • Failing to know or apply substantive law
  • Planning mistakes
  • Inadequate discovery or investigation
  • Missing document filing deadlines
  • Failing to calendar properly
  • Failing to know deadlines
  • Procrastinating
  • Failing to get client consent
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Blatant fraud.

While malpractice insurance coverage isn’t mandatory, taking your chances without it can have devastating effects, especially when you understand the full scope of your exposures.

Conflicts of interest.

There are two types of malpractice claims that arise from conflicts of interest. The first occurs when the lawyer has a personal interest in the outcome of the lawsuit. The second type arises when there is a conflict of interest between current and previous clients that are represented by your firm.

Client relation mistakes.

These usually arise when there is a discrepancy in the instructions provided by the client and the execution of the lawyer. However, these are very difficult to prove in court and can be costly to defend.

The second type is failure to obtain the client’s consent or inform the client. These claims involve the lawyer allegedly doing work or taking steps on a matter without client consent—for example, seeking or agreeing to adjournment, or making or accepting a settlement offer. Such claims also involve the lawyer failing to advise the client of all the implications or possible outcomes when decisions are made to follow a certain course of action—for example, pleading guilty on a criminal matter, or exercising a shotgun clause.

The last type of client relation errors stems from a lack of communication. This could result from poor explanation of strategy, scheduling, fees, administrative issues, disbursements, or other reasons.

About Walker & Associates Insurance

Walker & Associates Insurance understands the myriad risks lawyers face. If you don’t have legal malpractice coverage, you’re playing a risky game of Russian roulette. You never know when a client whose case doesn’t go his way will come back and point the finger of blame at you. Contact us today at (800) 213-7126 FREE to make sure you’re protected.