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Lake County Malpractice & Litigation Blog

Was your real estate attorney's mistake malpractice?

Buying or selling real estate is a significant financial commitment and a stressful experience for many Illinois residents. Some families hire a real estate attorney to guide them through the transaction and execute the due diligence necessary to avoid costly mistakes.

However, lawyers can make mistakes. Maybe your lawyer failed to properly execute a title search, did not disclose pertinent information or acted in opposition to your wishes. Now, you are left cleaning up an expensive mistake and believe that your attorney is to blame. Could you pursue a legal malpractice claim?

Three ways to prevent legal malpractice

Legal malpractice describes a situation in which an attorney has either been negligent with a client's case or handled it in a way that purposefully caused harm or damage to the client. An attorney may not be perfect, but it's important to be able to discern small mistakes from legal malpractice.

If you're suspicious about your attorney's treatment of your case, taking these three steps may help protect you from potential legal malpractice:

What happens if your attorney shares confidential information?

The legal system was designed so clients can speak openly with their attorneys, securing the legal guidance they need without information being used against them. To guard this exchange of information, clients are protected by client-attorney privileges and a duty of confidentiality. Together, these protections promote honesty and trust between you and your attorney.

But the system is not foolproof. What happens if your attorney wrongly shares confidential information and it does harm your case? Depending upon the circumstances, you may be able to file for legal malpractice.

Has your business suffered from accounting malpractice?

As a business owner, you hired a professional accountant to assist with your tax returns. You should be able to trust that the accountant will pay attention to details and properly file your returns on time, but what if you cannot?

If your accountant made serious mistakes on your tax return, you could face substantial penalties from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) including late fees, additional interest payments, penalties for negligence or even accusations of intentional fraud. This can severely impact your business, and all because you trusted a trained professional with your business's well-being. Depending on the situation, you may have a case for accounting malpractice.

Check for these red flags to know if your lawyer is dishonest

A dishonest lawyer is the last person you want defending your legal rights. What you really need on your team is someone you can trust -- someone who will advocate for you in a way that's up front, transparent and honest.

Your attorney should be fighting for your best interests -- but if you can't trust him or her -- you might as well give up your case right now.

How to interview a prospective lawyer for the job

Success in life is often about the questions we are brave enough to ask, and hiring a lawyer is no different. That's why it's important to ask any new lawyer "tough" questions that get to the heart of the information you require to make an informed hiring decision.

Remember: When you're hiring a lawyer, you're the boss and the decision is yours.

Examples of legal malpractice

Imagine your lawyer told you what a great case you have before you hired him. In fact, from your lawyer's descriptions, it sounded like you had a "slam-dunk," the law was completely on your side, and you were virtually guaranteed to win.

A couple of months into your case, however, your lawyer delivers some sad news. Your case was dismissed. He said that he's sorry, and there's nothing he can do. After a little bit more investigation, you discover that the judge didn't dismiss your case due to lack of merit. The judge dismissed your case because your lawyer missed a vital deadline. You may have been the victim of legal malpractice.

Construction defects devalue your home

You moved into your new home and were enjoying everything about it. You picked out the plans, the paint colors, the flooring and all other aspects of your home. The one thing that has been troubling you is that the home is extremely cold.

Even though you upgraded the insulation in your contract and insisted on energy efficiency, you've received bills you never could have dreamed of in the past. After looking around your home, you realize that the windows don't look like they're sealed tightly. Additionally, the walls feel cold.

A breach of fiduciary duty hurts clients

When you entrust an attorney to do something for you, you expect that to get done. For example, if the attorney works to invest or create a trust for you, you expect that your money is going where you were told it would go. If you find out that the attorney did not use your money correctly or used it for his or her own personal gain, then you can pursue a legal malpractice claim.

Breaching one's fiduciary duty is serious. It means that funds were misused in a way that hurt you as a client. It becomes your fight to pursue a claim against the person who misused your funds, so you can get back what you lost.

5 steps to help you choose a good lawyer

The last thing you want, in your hour of legal need, is to hire a bad lawyer who doesn't advocate for you in the right way. Even worse, what if you hire a negligent lawyer who loses your case because he commits legal malpractice?

If you want to a avoid a circumstance like this, there are a few important steps to take.

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The Gooch Firm
209 South Main Street
Wauconda, IL 60084

Phone: 847-865-4915
Phone: 847-526-0110
Fax: 847-526-0603
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