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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.

How do you know if someone has breached one's fiduciary duty?

First, the individual must owe a duty to you. What that means is that he or she must be working with you and have a contract, either verbal or written, to complete a task as asked or described. When the defendant doesn't finish a task or uses your funds in an inappropriate manner, that's when he or she is in breach of his or her duties.

Finally, you'll need to show that you suffered damages. For instance, if you lost money because an attorney didn't file paperwork in an appropriate timeframe, you can show that you suffered financially and seek those funds from the attorney during a lawsuit. In some cases, you may be able to obtain punitive damages, which are additional financial awards given to punish a guilty party.

To pursue a claim, you will need to choose another attorney to work with. It might be difficult at first to do so, but by getting good references and speaking to attorneys before choosing whom to work with, you can decide whom you would like to negotiate your case.

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