How Do I File a Legal Malpractice Lawsuit in San Francisco?
If your attorney made one or more significant errors while representing you during a recent case in San Francisco, and those errors led to the loss of a meritorious claim, you might have grounds to file a legal malpractice claim. Below are some key considerations as you prepare to take action in San Francisco.
Determine if you truly have a case against your attorney
First, you must consider if what your attorney did truly constitutes malpractice. As mentioned before, this goes beyond a simple failure to achieve a desired or expected result. There must have been an element of negligence in your attorney’s conduct that resulted in the financial harm you sustained.
An attorney has a duty to use the skill, prudence, and diligence that a reasonably careful attorney would have used in similar circumstances. That duty encompasses both a knowledge of law and an obligation of diligent research and informed judgment.
Examples of negligent behaviors that can demonstrate a breach of duty include failure to meet important deadlines, failure to properly prepare for trial, or failure to follow court orders. You might also have a case if your attorney breached the contract you signed—and that breach caused you to lose your case.
If you have carefully analyzed your case and still believe your attorney was negligent and can prove quantifiable damages, you might consider proceeding with your claim. Be sure to act quickly so as to avoid any issue with the statute of limitations.
Prepare your case
As soon as possible, obtain a copy of your case file from your attorney. Gather any documents that pertain to the case, along with any other documents that could support your malpractice claim. If there are potential witnesses who could assist you, be sure to list their names and contact information.
At this point, you will want to get in touch with a legal malpractice attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area. Schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss the case. Be sure to be as open and honest with your attorney as possible, even if some of the facts could make you look bad. He or she will advise you on how best to proceed.
After you have filed your lawsuit in the Superior Court of San Francisco, it is important that you stay open and honest with your new attorney. Your legal counsel needs all the facts of the case to provide you with strong representation and guidance.
Once your lawyer files the case, you will be encouraged by the court to participate in some form of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”)— i.e. mediation, settlement conference, or settlement negotiations. Depending on the facts and overall strength of your case, it may be in your best interest to participate in ADR as soon as possible.
You will also participate in the discovery process whereby the parties exchange documents and ask questions to fully investigate the claims. You will likely undergo a deposition, which is questioning under oath. At this time, depending on the strength of your case and your attorney’s strategy, attempts to resolve the case through ADR may begin in earnest— assuming your case withstands summary judgment.
Most cases settle out of court, but if your case goes to trial, you will have opportunities to present evidence in front of a judge or jury.
Need help? Schedule a free consultation with our San Francisco legal malpractice attorneys.
To learn more about the process of filing a legal malpractice lawsuit in San Francisco, meet with our experienced legal malpractice attorneys: (415) 352-0980.