Like all professionals, attorneys make mistakes. Some of these mistakes are harmless or can be easily fixed without affecting the outcome of a client’s case or matter. In other cases, however, legal malpractice causes clients to lose valid claims, defenses, or assets. These mistakes can cost clients thousands or millions of dollars. Our Kansas City attorneys have handled numerous legal-malpractice claims and have recovered millions for clients who have been damaged by attorney malpractice.
A legal malpractice claim requires more than dissatisfaction with your attorney or the result of your case or matter. Legal malpractice is defined under Missouri law as the failure of an attorney to exercise the degree of care, skill, and learning in representing a client that is ordinarily exercised by other attorneys under the same or similar circumstances.
A client can only bring a legal malpractice claim in Missouri when the following four elements exist:
- There must be an attorney-client relationship;
- The defendant lawyer must have acted negligently or in breach of contract;
- Those acts must have been the proximate cause of the client’s damages;
- But for the attorney’s conduct, the client would have been successful in his or her claim.
Legal malpractice cases often end up being a “case within a case,” requiring the attorney handling the malpractice claim to show that another attorney erred and that the underlying claim or transaction would have been successful without the error.
Legal malpractice claims in Kansas and Missouri can arise in many ways. Examples include:
- Failure to meet time deadlines
- Errors in drafting legal documents and contracts
- Violation of fiduciary duties and responsibilities
- Inadequate knowledge of the law
- Overbilling or fraudulent timekeeping
- Failing to inform a client of a settlement offer
- Failure to enlist the appropriate experts in cases where experts are required
- Suing the wrong party
- Mishandling of client funds
- Breach of duty
- Conflicts of Interest
If an attorney was negligent in any of the above ways and it caused you to lose a claim, defense, or opportunity, you may have a claim against the attorney. Our attorneys are familiar with the issues and difficulties that can arise in legal-malpractice actions, including the recovery of lost profits for business opportunities lost due to attorney malpractice.
Strict deadlines can apply to legal malpractice claims. In Kansas, the statute of limitations for a legal malpractice claim is two years. Kan. Stat. § 60-513(a)(4). In Missouri, the statute of limitations is five years. Mo. Rev. Stat. 516.120. If you believe you have suffered financial harm as a result of attorney negligence, we recommend you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.
The attorneys at Pospisil Swift offer free consultations and have handled legal-malpractice claims throughout Kansas and Missouri. Fill out the form below or give us a call to discuss your potential case. An initial discussion is always free, and we handle the majority of our cases on a contingency-fee arrangement.