What is the maximum amount I can get for a legal malpractice case?

UPDATED: Dec 28, 2011

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What is the maximum amount I can get for a legal malpractice case?

I was in a car accident several years ago and retained a attorney who I just found out failed to file the claim in time. They informed me that I have the right to retain another attorney and file a claim against their law office but they would like to settle without litigation. How should I go about this? And what is the maximum amount they are responsible for? Is it the the amount that we were asking in my original case?

Asked on December 28, 2011 under Personal Injury, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) You can settle a claim as simply as by agreeing to an amount, then executing (signing) an agreement with the other party. However, even if you do not actually file a lawsuit, you should retain an attorney to negotiate on your behalf and review  the settlement agreement; otherwise, you will be putting yourself at a considerable disadvantage, since the other side are all lawyers.

2) The amount you could receive is the amount of damage or loss you suffered. Potentially, it could  be as large as the claim or lawsuit in the original case, though if you go to trial, you'd have essentially prove that claim as well--that is, you'd have to show that you'd have likely won, and the amount you would be due, to establish that you were damaged and therefore your right to recovery.

3) Typically, if you settle pre-trial or without even filing, you accept a fraction--say, 20% to 40%; maybe as high as 50 - 70% in very strong cases--of the potential claim. That's because you are saving  the cost of trial; you are avoiding the uncertainty of trial; and the other side needs an incentive (paying less) to make it worth their while to settle, anyway.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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