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We are only one of a few law firms that actually represent a client against their former or present attorney for legal malpractice in Suffolk County. We do not take the suing of a lawyer or a law firm for legal malpractice lightly. We only file cases where we truly believe that legal errors or mistakes have occurred which has caused a client actual harm and financial damages. Not all mistakes and errors that lawyers can make will legally form the basis for a legal malpractice action.
If a lawyer's mistake or error has caused you actual harm, the law does permit the client to be fully compensated for their financial harm, commonly referred to as "pecuniary losses". In legal malpractice actions, the law further permits interest at the rate of 9 percent to be recovered or added to the amount of the actual financial loss to the client. The interest is measured by going back to the date that the malpractice occurred up until the date the of any jury verdict.
Legal or lawyer malpractice is a growing area of the law. In the not to distant past such actions were rarely filed. Even today, legal malpractice law suits are not particularly favored by the trial courts and of course, by many lawyers themselves. As part of this portion of our simple website we have included some common errors and mistakes that lawyers can and do make which may be the basis for a legal malpractice action. These errors and mistakes may take the following form:
There are many other instances of errors and mistakes that can form the basis of a legal malpractice action that are not listed above. If you have any questions about what you believe were errors and mistakes committed by your former or present lawyer, you can call our office and speak directly with Mr. Zahn, often you will be glad you did.
OTHER TYPE ACTIONS AGAINST LAWYERS
In addition to a client’s claim of legal malpractice against their former or present lawyer, if a lawyer "intentionally" engages in conduct against the client's interests, the law provides the client with additional legal remedies against the lawyer which may include punitive damages or treble damages. Two of these additional legal remedies may be for “breach of fiduciary duty” or a violation of "section 487 of the Judiciary Law” which are briefly discussed below.
BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTIES
The law provides and requires an attorney-client relationship to be very special and unique type of relationship. The attorney-client relationship is required to be and must be based on the utmost trust and loyalty owed to the client by the attorney. Anytime an attorney puts their own self interests (financial or otherwise) above those of the client or when the attorney breaches the client’s confidentiality, loyalty or trust, the law in New York permits a claim to be filed against the attorney for “Breach of Fiduciary Duty”.
A claim for a breach of fiduciary by the attorney may be a separate claim in addition to a claim for legal malpractice. In serious breach of fiduciary duty cases, often involving intentional or unconscionable behavior by the attorney, you may have any legal fees you paid the attorney refunded by a process know as disgorgement of the fees. This process may result in a return of all or part of the legal fees paid to the attorney.
VIOLATION OF SECTION 487 OF THE JUDICARY LAW
In addition to a breach of fiduciary duties owed to a client, there is also a very old rule dating all the way back to the times of the King of England. Present day there is a statute that follows the rule and it is contained in section 487 of the Judiciary Law. Given a rather recent decision by the Court of Appeals the highest Court in New York State, the statute has been given a rebirth of sorts. It purpose is applied only against attorney while there is an action pending.
It applies only to the intentional conduct of an attorney during a pending legal action and not to mere negligence of an attorney. A client who is able to prove a violation of this statute by their former or present attorney may be entitled to recover from the attorney three (3) times the value of their actual damages. The statute reads:
“An attorney or counselor who:
1. is guilty of any deceit or collusion or consents to any deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party; or,
2. Willfully delays his client's suit with a view to his own gain; or
3. Willfully receives any money or allowance for or on account of any money which he has not laid out, or becomes answerable for
Is guilty of a misdemeanor, and in addition to the punishment prescribed therefor by the penal law, he forfeits to the party injured treble damages, to be recovered in a civil action.”
Call Mr. Zahn if you have any questions about whether or not your attorney may have committed legal malpractice, a breach of their fiduciary duties to you as the client or any conduct by your attorney that may be the basis of a violation of section 487 of the Judiciary law. Your communications with Mr. Zahn are completely confidential.
***Mr. Zahn has recently been admitted to practice law in the State of Vermont. What is stated above only applies to the laws of the State of New York.
The materials contained in this website are for information purposes only and not meant to be and should not be construed as legal advice. Viewing this website is not intended to nor does it create any attorney-client relationship. Our practice and all information on this website is limited to the laws of the State of New York. This is attorney advertising.