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Tag Archives: L.A. County

Recoverable Damages in Legal Malpractice Actions

By Robert Ross |

WHAT DAMAGES CAN A CLIENT RECOVER AGAINST A NEGLIGENT LAWYER? Plaintiffs who successfully bring a legal malpractice action against a lawyer may recover damages sufficient to “make the client whole,” or — in the words of California Civil Code Section 3333: “The amount which will compensate for all the detriment proximately caused [by the wrongful… Read More »

When Has a Lawyer’s Negligence Damaged a Client?

By Robert Ross |

WITHOUT DAMAGES, A LEGAL MALPRACTICE ACTION CANNOT PREVAIL. Damages–meaning a legally recognizable harm or injury–is a mandatory element of a legal malpractice (professional negligence) action. This means that a plaintiff must be able to prove that the attorney’s breach of a legally recognized duty caused the plaintiff to suffer some harm or injury. Moreover,… Read More »

Expert Testimony in Legal Malpractice Cases

By Robert Ross |

WHEN IS EXPERT TESTIMONY REQUIRED IN MALPRACTICE CASES? Generally, expert testimony is not required in legal malpractice cases if the lawyer’s act or omission was so clearly a breach of duty and contrary to accepted standards that a jury (or judge, as trier of fact) does not require expert testimony to find malpractice. Where the… Read More »

A Lawyer’s Mistake is Not Necessarily Malpractice

By Robert Ross |

LAWYERS’ MISTAKES (OR FAILURE TO “WIN”) ARE NOT NECESSARILY MALPRACTICE For every lawyer who wins a lawsuit (or prevails in a negotiation) there’s generally another one who loses–it’s the nature of an adversarial system. Clearly, then, losing a case (or negotiation) doesn’t constitute malpractice. A loss is only malpractice if the loss results from the… Read More »

Malpractice Liability to Non-Clients in Situations Involving Foreseeable Harm

By Robert Ross |

Although as a general rule attorneys have no legally recognized duty (and thus, have no liability for malpractice) to non-client plaintiffs, California law does recognize an exception where the foreseeability of harm to a non-client outweighs “other policy considerations”–including the rule that attorneys should not be liable for malpractice in the absence of an attorney-client relationship. Whether or… Read More »

Who Can Sue a Lawyer For Malpractice?

By Robert Ross |

GENERALLY, AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IS A PREREQUISITE FOR MALPRACTICE CLAIMS. Most legal malpractice claims fall under the heading of “professional negligence” and, like other forms of negligence claims, require the existence (and breach) of some duty between the parties. In most cases, the duty required to support a malpractice action springs from the existence… Read More »

Proving Fault in Suits For Injuries on Public Lands

By Robert Ross |

PLAINTIFFS MUST PROVE THAT PUBLIC ENTITY DEFENDANTS WERE AT FAULT FOR INJURIES OCCURRING ON PUBLIC LANDS. A mandatory element of an injured plaintiff’s claims against a government defendant for injuries occurring on public lands is the defendant’s “fault.” Plaintiffs can prove fault by proving either: (a) the public entity created the dangerous condition; or (b)… Read More »

Tolling the Statute of Limitations on Malpractice

By Robert Ross |

WHEN DOES A CLIENT “DISCOVER” LEGAL MALPRACTICE FOR PURPOSES OF THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS? A client has “discovered” an attorney’s malpractice for statute of limitations purposes when the client knows or should have known about the lawyer’s wrongful act or omission. The client does not have to realize that the wrongful act constitutes “negligence” or “malpractice”… Read More »

Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Legal Malpractice Cases (Part 1)

By Robert Ross |

WHAT IS A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS? A statute of limitations is a law (a “statute”) that limits the amount of time a plaintiff has to bring a legal claim against a defendant. In cases involving legal malpractice (professional negligence) the statute of limitations controls how much time the allegedly injured plaintiff has to bring a case… Read More »

Punitive Damages in Attorney Malpractice Actions

By Robert Ross |

WHAT ARE PUNITIVE DAMAGES? Punitive damages are a form of damages courts can order defendants (including defendant attorneys, in proper circumstances) to pay to prevailing plaintiffs. Punitive damages are monetary in nature, and represent amounts in excess of damages actually suffered by the plaintiff. Although punitive damage awards are not available in all cases (in fact,… Read More »

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