When Can I Sue an Attorney in Nevada?
Attorneys are supposed to be professional. Every Nevada lawyer is bound by a code of ethics, and violations of that code can leave attorneys vulnerable to lawsuits.
If your Clark County lawyer was negligent, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Losses sustained as the result of missing filing dates or other errors;
- Fees paid to other lawyers; and/or
- Amounts by which you were overcharged.
Our Las Vegas Nevada personal injury lawyers can help you determine whether your losses resulted from legal malpractice.
To help you better understand Nevada’s legal malpractice laws, our Las Vegas malpractice lawyers discuss the following, below:
- 1. How Attorneys Violate Malpractice Laws in Nevada
- 2. Fee Disputes and Las Vegas Attorney Malpractice
- 3. Negligence in Professional Conduct
- 4. Intentional Harm
- 5. Negligent Errors
- 6. Non-Client/Adversary Claims
While the majority of Las Vegas attorneys are ethical and competent, there are always a few bad apples. Furthermore, some attorneys can violate legal malpractice laws completely by accident.
Generally, violations of legal malpractice laws fall into one of four categories:
- Fee disputes / overbilling;
- Negligence in professional conduct (such as mishandling of funds for failure to disclose conflicts of interest);
- Intentional harm (such as fraud or theft); or
- Negligent errors (such as failure to meet a case-dispositive deadline).
Nevada lawyers are obligated to make their fee structure clear to their clients and charge reasonable fees. In some cases, people later believe that their Las Vegas lawyer is charging too much for the services delivered.
Fee disputes often start when clients refuse to pay their Las Vegas attorneys. The reason they give for declining to pay is not because of a lack of funds, but because of overbilling or the poor quality of legal services rendered.
Attorneys typically respond to not being paid in the best way they know how: by suing the person who did not pay them. As a defense in such a lawsuit, the client may claim malpractice.
If the judge agrees that your Las Vegas lawyers did not provide reasonable legal services for the amount they charged, your fees could be reduced or eliminated.
In other situations, the state may actually set maximum fees—for example, medical malpractice contingency fees have strict upper limits. A Nevada attorney whose fees exceed these state caps can be sued for legal malpractice.
An ethical lapse by a Nevada attorney is called “negligence in professional conduct.” If for example a Las Vegas attorney violates attorney-client privilege, it is a breach of ethics laws and could lead to a successful malpractice suit. The same is true if an attorney attempts to begin an inappropriate relationship with a client or acts in a harassing way.
Another type of negligence in professional conduct occurs when an attorney fails to provide an accounting for money and property handled for the client. This can lead to clients losing money and having no idea where it went. Attorneys who fail to pay funds owed to their clients can face malpractice suits due to negligence in professional conduct.
Most lawyers mistakes arise from negligence. In rare cases, however, a lawyer may intentionally act in a way that is contrary to a client’s interest.
If your lawyer has stolen funds from you or lied about a case, you may have an action for both legal malpractice and fraud. Our caring Nevada legal malpractice lawyers can advise you on the possible claims you may have against an attorney who has intentionally harmed you.
In particularly serious cases, you may be even be entitled to punitive damages in an amount of up to three times your actual damages.
Every Nevada lawyer is required to perform legal services at the skill level normally possessed by other lawyers in the state. What this means is that you may have a case against your Las Vegas attorney if he/she:
- Failed to file court paperwork—or failed to file it on time—resulting in a worse outcome for your case;
- Neglected to prepare the proper documents necessary for your case;
- Incorrectly analyzed a real estate title or other document;
- Gave improper or incorrect advice to you when you asked about a point of Nevada law or your rights; or
- Made a significant error during your trial or sentencing hearing.
Sometimes Nevada attorneys are sued by non-clients—even the people who were facing off with them in court. It is difficult to be successful in one of these claims.
The people who typically sue Las Vegas lawyers for this kind of malpractice do so after they feel they have been defamed, harassed, or abused by the other attorney in the case. For example, people who have been maliciously prosecuted may wish to file suit against the prosecutor in their case.