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If My Attorney Screwed Up My Case, What Are My Rights?

It's a question that has crossed the minds of many defendants: if my attorney screwed up my case, what are my rights? The answer, unfortunately, is not as straightforward as one might hope. Every state has different laws governing the relationship between an attorney and a client, and these laws can be surprisingly complex. In some cases, an attorney may be held liable for damages caused by their negligence; in others, the client may be barred from bringing a lawsuit against their lawyer at all.

To make matters even more complicated, the law often takes a dim view of defendants who try to represent themselves in court. Judges will often go out of their way to ensure that pro se litigants receive no favors and are subject to the same procedural rules as attorneys. This can make it difficult for someone who has been wronged by their lawyer to seek redress through the courts.

In short, while it is certainly possible for a defendant to sue their lawyer if they feel they have been wronged, doing so can be difficult and expensive. It is always advisable to speak with an experienced legal professional if you have any questions about your rights in this situation.

Let's dive deeper into some of the legal issues surrounding a defendant's rights if their attorney screws up.

What is Legal Malpractice?

Legal malpractice is a broad term used to describe any negligence or misconduct on the part of an attorney that causes harm to their client. This can include anything from overlooking important facts or missing deadlines to failing to communicate properly with the client or not providing quality legal representation as promised.

Imagine, for example, that an attorney fails to bring up a key piece of evidence at trial that would have helped their client's case. This could constitute legal malpractice depending on the circumstances.

Types of Mistakes Made by Attorneys

Attorneys can make a variety of mistakes that could lead to legal malpractice claims. Some of the most common types of mistakes include:

  • Failing to investigate or understand the facts of a case. Under this category, an attorney might fail to adequately research the relevant law or facts before filing a case. They could also fail to take into account important evidence that affects their client's case. If an attorney fails to investigate or understand the facts of a case, they may not be able to provide their client with the best possible legal representation.
  • Missing or ignoring important deadlines or statutes of limitation. The legal system is full of deadlines and statutes of limitation that attorneys must adhere to in order to avoid running afoul of the law. An attorney who misses or ignores these important deadlines can put their client in a difficult position and potentially open themselves up to legal malpractice claims.
  • Not communicating adequately with the client about their case. Good communication is essential for any attorney-client relationship to be successful. If an attorney fails to adequately keep their client informed about important developments in the case, they may be held liable for damages resulting from their lack of communication.
  • Breaching the attorney-client privilege. The attorney-client privilege is a legal concept that protects confidential communications between an attorney and a client. If an attorney breaches this privilege by revealing or using protected information without their client's consent, they may be held liable for any damages that result.
  • Engaging in unethical or illegal behavior. Attorneys are expected to abide by a strict code of ethical conduct, and any violations of this code can be grounds for disciplinary action from the state bar association or criminal prosecution. If an attorney engages in unethical or illegal behavior, their client may have grounds to bring a legal malpractice claim against them.
  • Making mistakes during trial. Trials are filled with intricate procedures and rules that attorneys must be familiar with in order to properly represent their clients. If an attorney fails to comply with these rules or makes a mistake during the course of a trial, they could be held liable for any damages that result from their error.
  • Not following client instructions. An attorney is expected to act in accordance with their client's wishes and instructions. If an attorney fails to do so, they may be held liable for any harm caused by their actions or omissions.

What Are a Defendant's Rights if Their Attorney Screws Up?

If you believe that your attorney has committed legal malpractice, your first step should be to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in legal malpractice. An experienced attorney can help you to determine if you have a viable case and what your options are for pursuing a claim against your attorney.

Depending on the circumstances, there may be different remedies available to you. These could include compensatory damages (such as reimbursement of costs incurred due to the mistake), punitive damages (to punish the attorney for their conduct), or even disbarment of the attorney. If your claim is successful, you may be entitled to recover all costs associated with bringing the case against your attorney, including legal fees and court costs.

It's important to remember that filing a legal malpractice claim can be a complicated process, and it is important to speak with an experienced attorney in order to understand your rights and the legal process. An experienced attorney can help you to evaluate your case and provide you with the best advice on how to proceed.

Here are some legal steps to take in the event of legal malpractice:

1. Provide information and support related to your legal case

When dealing with any type of legal situation, it is important to consult a lawyer who can provide you with guidance regarding your options and the best course of action. Your lawyer should be able to explain the law in terms that are easy for you to understand, as well as give advice on how to achieve the outcome you desire.

Suppose you believe that your attorney has made a mistake or neglected to do something they were supposed to. In this case, you should also seek legal counsel from an experienced legal malpractice attorney who can evaluate the merits of your claim and advise you on how best to proceed.

2. Keep you up to date about your case

It is essential for any attorney to keep their clients informed about the progress of their case. This means providing regular updates on any developments and informing the client when hearings or other important events are scheduled. If an attorney fails to do this, they could be held liable for any harm that results from their inaction or delay.

Having an experienced attorney who can constantly update you on the progress of your case will help to alleviate any stress and uncertainty that may arise.

3. Inform you of their predictions for your case

Your attorney should be able to provide an assessment of what is likely to happen in your case, based on their knowledge and experience with similar cases. This will allow you to make important decisions and prepare for the outcome of your case.

During the course of your case, be sure to ask your attorney for their opinion on the likely outcome and any changes that may occur. This will give you a clearer picture of what to expect, and help you plan accordingly.

4. Make sure you can make informed decisions about your case

It is important for clients to be able to make informed decisions regarding their cases, and your attorney should provide you with the necessary information to do so. Your attorney should advise you on any potential risks associated with certain courses of action and provide counsel on which option is likely to be most beneficial for you.

Even if you are not sure which decision to make, your attorney should provide an objective opinion as to which choice is likely to be the most advantageous.

5. Provide you with an estimate of how much your case should cost.

Costs associated with a legal dispute can add up quickly and can significantly impact the outcome of your case. It is important that you are made aware of any potential costs associated with your case so that you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.

Your attorney should provide you with an estimate of the expenses that you will likely incur throughout the course of your case so that you can adequately prepare for any financial burden.

6. Help you analyze the costs and benefits of any potential actions.

In order to determine whether it is worth pursuing legal action, your attorney should be able to assess the potential costs and benefits associated with the same. This can help you to make an informed decision on whether or not taking legal action is a viable option for you.

Your attorney should provide advice on any potential risks or rewards that may come out of pursuing a certain course of action so that you can weigh the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.

7. Keep in communication with you

It is important for your attorney to be available and reachable when you need them. This means that your lawyer should be willing to answer any questions you may have and keep the lines of communication open throughout the course of your case.

Having an experienced attorney who is responsive and attentive to your needs will be beneficial to the outcome of your case.

8. Inform you of any delay, changes, or setbacks

If there are any delays, changes, or setbacks in your case, it is important that you are made aware of them as soon as possible. This will help to ensure that you can plan accordingly and make proactive decisions in order to keep your case on track.

Your attorney should be open and honest with you about any developments in your case so that you can take swift action if necessary.

9. Give you the information you require for educated decisions

In order to make informed decisions concerning your legal situation, it is important that you are familiar with all of the relevant facts and information. Your attorney should provide you with adequate guidance and advice on any legal matter so that you are able to make informed choices regarding your case.

10. Prepare you for disposition and trial preparation

In order to ensure the best possible outcome for your case, it is important that you are adequately prepared. Your attorney should provide assistance with any dispositions or trial preparations so that you can be ready for whatever may come up during the course of your case. This will help to minimize the potential risks of unfavorable outcomes and maximize the chances of a successful resolution.

Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to finding a great lawyer who can help prepare you for your legal dispute. Having an experienced attorney by your side throughout the process is essential to ensuring the best possible outcome. With the right professional, you’ll have sound advice, accurate information, and reliable counsel to get through any legal situation.


It's important to enlist the assistance of an experienced attorney in order for your legal matter to be handled effectively. Your lawyer should provide guidance and advice on how to navigate your case, keep you informed about any changes or developments, and ensure that you are adequately prepared for whatever outcome may come.

Ultimately, having someone who is knowledgeable and reliable by your side can make all the difference in achieving a favorable outcome.

If your attorney screwed up and if you are able to change lawyers, The Injury Firm is here to help. Our experienced attorneys are knowledgeable in all areas of personal injury law and are dedicated to helping you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us help you get started on your road to recovery.

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