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Do missed deadlines constitute legal malpractice?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2023 | Legal Malpractice

If you hire a Tennessee attorney, you can expect him or her to fulfill all ethical and legal obligations associated with the formal practice of law. As in all business industries, not everyone is good at their job. There are attorneys who are mediocre, while others have proved themselves to stand out from their competitors. There are also those who do not get many referrals, and some who wind up in court for legal malpractice.

If you believe that you have received substandard support or that your attorney has committed malpractice, state law provides recourse for you to seek financial recovery for damages. Before filing a claim, however, it is important to make sure you have grounds for a legal malpractice case. Just because an attorney makes a mistake or is late for a meeting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that malpractice has occurred. Then again, it also doesn’t necessarily mean that it hasn’t.

What constitutes legal malpractice in Tennessee?

If your attorney fails to show up for a court hearing, it might constitute malpractice. Perhaps this attorney has missed multiple deadlines, failed to appear or did not file documents when he or she had an obligation to do so. While you are not responsible for your attorney’s behavior, you may have a right to damages if he or she breaches a duty of care and causes you to lose a case.

Would you likely have won your case if your attorney had not been lax?

Missing a single deadline might not seem like a big deal. However, in some cases, such as a complex legal battle, failing to do something on time might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and compels the court to rule in the other party’s favor. In this way, missing deadlines may, in fact, constitute legal malpractice, especially if there is additional evidence to suggest it.

Such evidence might include overbilling you for legal services, failing to return your phone calls, text messages or emails, or denying you access to your case file. There are several ways to resolve inadequate legal care.

What to do if you suspect legal malpractice

You can send a formal letter, asking your attorney to explain his or her actions or inaction. If you wish to continue your alliance, you can ask your attorney to enter mediation to try to resolve your differences. Finally, you can fire an attorney who is not doing a good job. If it’s more than that, and you believe malpractice has occurred, you can ask the court to hold the attorney accountable for damages.