legal malpractice lawyers phoenix arizona  
 
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Adams & Clark, PC
Attorneys at Law

Suite 200
520 East Portland Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85004

(602) 258-3542
(602) 258-1377 FAX

 

Issues to Consider in Bringing a Legal Malpractice Action

 

Your Former Lawyer Will Likely Be Represented by the Insurance Company

Your former lawyer, especially if she/he is insured for legal malpractice, will be represented by talented legal counsel hired by the insurance company. These lawyers are paid to carefully scrutinize each claim, and to make sure that every available legal and factual defense is brought to bear against you.

No Insurance Coverage

Attorneys in Arizona are required to report to the State Bar of Arizona whether she/he has professional insurance. A surprising number of lawyers practice law without insurance. With large and medium sized firms, this is rarely the case, but many smaller practices and solo practitioners take the risk of representing you without any insurance, forcing you to face the risk of no recovery if they cause you any harm.

Blown Insurance Coverage

No matter how strong your malpractice claim may be, it will have little chance of providing the compensation you need if your former lawyer somehow carelessly does something that destroys his malpractice insurance coverage.

Lawyer malpractice insurance policies run from year to year. Their fine print usually says in effect that if the lawyer has any reason to believe he might have committed any malpractice during the previous year, or any reason to believe a claim might be brought against him, he must tell his insurer about it when he fills out his renewal application. This latter scenario encompasses situations where you've verbally or in writing blamed the attorney for something that happened in the case, even if it was just angry words. If your lawyer does not tell his insurer about such matters at policy renewal time, and you make your formal claim after that, the insurer can refuse to participate.

The message here: As soon as you think you may have been harmed by your lawyer's actions, call a competent malpractice lawyer. Do not delay. If you do delay, your former lawyer's malpractice policy may be coming up for renewal, and he may neglect to tell his insurer about your possible claim. Timely notice of claim to your former lawyer and to his insurer can prevent the blown insurance coverage problem.

Expert Witnesses

The practice of law, like medicine, engineering, etc, is considered by our courts to be a profession whose requirements are beyond the knowledge of lay jurors. This is where expert witnesses come in. In most cases we must hire one or more legal experts to be prepared to educate the jury as to what was wrong with your former attorney's work, what she/he should have done differently, and how it affected the outcome of your case. Expert witnesses can be expensive. In addition, we may have to prove as part of your malpractice case that you would have prevailed on the underlying litigation. This may require putting on all the same witnesses, and costly expert witnesses, if any, that your lawyer would have or should have called in your case.

Expert testimony is generally required to establish the standard of care by which the professional actions of any attorney are measured and to determine whether the attorney deviated from the proper standard. Baird v. Pace, 156 Ariz. 418, 752 P.2d 507 (App. 1987).