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stevewlaw, Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 207
Experience:  25+ years and millions of dollars in settlements in catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, and commercial matters.
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Re: claim for malpractice in case where: Atty of record (willfully)

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Re: claim for malpractice in case where: Atty of record (willfully) doesn't appear for scheduled hearing, has not withdrawn, not served required notice to parties, etc., resulting in extreme prejudice at hearing with adverse ruling to clients.
Some questions: 1.) How do you determine a dollar figure for that kind of professional negligence in proposing a settlement? 2.) Can compensatory and punitive damages be asserted in letter with regards XXXXX XXXXX? 3.) If complaint for malpractice is filed with the state Bar would/could that result in negative repercussions for atty., professionally as well as potentially affecting insurance premiums, such that atty. (or insurer) would be willing to settle before such complaint is filed with the Bar... prior to filing suit?
Thank you.

stevewlaw :

Good morning. I am sorry to hear of your situation. Generally, the value of a potential legal malpractice claim is the value of your original medical malpractice case. So your med mal case must be meritorious and have value before your legal malpractice case has value. If, for instance, your medical malpractice case is worth $100,000, then your legal malpractice case would be worth the same amount. As for the availability of punitive damages in your legal malpractice case, you will need to prove that the attorney was not only negligent, but did something beyond just being negligent to justify an award for punitive damages. Punies are never awarded in an ordinary negligence case. You will need to establish that the attorney acted intentionally or willfully in abandoning you as a client. I would not count on your ability to establish the basis for an award of punitive damages, unfortunately. But your abandonment as a client seems like a sound claim. As for the notification to the State Bar of your abandonment as a client, this is the type of case they generally investigate and take seriously. So I am assuming that because of your lawyers "negligence", your medical malpractice case was dismissed. If that is the case, and you have some idea of the value of that case, then you should make a demand on the lawyer to settle your case informally before you file a legal malpractice case. You should notify your State Bar offices regardless of your desire to use it as some sort of threat against the lawyer. Lawyers like that should not be representing clients. I am sorry to hear of your misfortune, and I wish you the best of luck in your quest for justice.

stevewlaw :

If you are satisfied with my response, I would appreciate receiving your positive feedback. Thank you.


Thank you! It is a business case (legal malpractice), not medical case, but seems the logic/understanding could apply in same manner. Deliberate abandonment can be proved, as it's in a communication to us from atty. just before the scheduled case hearing. We are agreeable to settle the matter now....before filing suit, as if suit is filed there will surely be a higher cost in regards XXXXX XXXXX What is our best/strongest argument(s) in making the case for settlement?

stevewlaw :

I am sorry for the confusion. Who would have thought that a lawyer handling a legal malpractice case would commit legal malpractice himself. What irony! You are correct in that the analysis of damages and your own claim for legal malpractice against this lawyer would be the same, whether the underlying case was medical or legal malpractice. Your best argument would be to present the evidence of abandonment to the lawyer, and then you should have the opinion of another lawyer (on't disclose that attorneys identity) that this other lawyer committed legal malpractice, and that the malpractice caused you damages. That is your best tact.


OK thank you.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Just re-read again... it was not our legal malpractice lawyer, it was our lawyer in the business case who engaged in malpractice. Thanks

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