There is a distinction between ethical standards and legal standards of the practice of law. Violation of an ethical standard (like failing to communicate or misrepresenting matters to a client) is not in and of itself a basis for a legal malpractice claim -- there must be a breach of the standard of practice as well.
West Virginia (WV) Legal Malpractice Information Center
In many cases, a qualified legal malpractice attorney will offer to take your case on a contingency basis, meaning that at the outset of the case, you will sign a contingency fee contract which means that you will not have to pay any money up front. You will only pay when the professional negligence attorney obtains a recovery for you. At that time, you will reimburse your lawyer for costs and pay legal fees for representation.
The short answer is no, not all attorneys in West Virginia are required to carry liability insurance. Even well-qualified, experienced attorneys can make an error or one of their staff members can forget a deadline or make a mistake.
When Your Attorney has Made a Critical Mistake:
When cases are complex or liability issues are in dispute, even experienced and competent attorneys can make an error which constitutes legal malpractice. Lawsuits are complex entities with many moving parts, and a staff member may miss a filing deadline or fail to follow orders, and this can seriously compromise or disqualify a case from legal compensation.
Most Common Mistakes:
- Missed Filing Deadlines
- Failure to Appear in Court
- Lack of Disclosure
- Failure to Obtain Permission of Client Prior to Accepting Settlement
- Misuse of Funds
- Failure to Apply Law
Such errors are the reasons the best law firms purchase liability insurance for the protection of their clients just in case such a mistake is made which seriously compromises a case. Some of the best law firms in the state have been sued for legal malpractice, usually due to the failure of one individual in the firm who did not follow through.
Proving legal malpractice is a two-part test
Even if an attorney has clearly made an error, that does not necessarily mean that their former client would have won a verdict. The case must have been good to begin with. It must also be shown that absent the faulty representation, a better outcome would have been achieved for this valid claim of injuries or medical malpractice.