Massachusetts Legal Malpractice and the Coronavirus
Notwithstanding more than thirty years of practicing legal malpractice law in Massachusetts, I have yet to hear the insurance trial attorneys use the defense of the Coronavirus. Will this be changing soon? Perhaps.
What Can You Do NOW to Protect Your Case and Avoid Legal Malpractice?
We would suggest that you see your relationship with your attorney as a partnership. These are times of stress, folks working remotely, courts closing and rescheduling cases, and files being moved about from offices to homes. Lawyers may neglect your case by failing to follow up on a letter or email, failing to file suit before the statute of limitations runs, failing to respond to discovery (interrogatories and document production) or simply missing a necessary deadline. Probate Court cases may be especially vulnerable because families can’t gather and discuss how to instruct their lawyer to proceed.
It’s your case. You can help. Be a good partner. ASK what the next steps are and if there are any deadlines. Follow up. Yes, your lawyer is busy, and perhaps busier now, but get your concerns about your case to him or her and follow up. If your lawyer needs to file suit in a month, ask what she or he is doing to be sure they actually can get the Complaint and associated documents to the appropriate court. And follow up. Ask what the next steps are and if you can help.
Civil procedure and legal malpractice is a topic of a whole webpage of ours. Note here, however, that there are many steps that lawyer must follow to prosecute (or defend) your case. While the courts may be closed during the Coronavirus of 2020, your lawyer should be doing everything she can to keep your case moving forward. If they inform that your trial was continued, for example, follow up regularly to see how the Court is handling the backlog and be sure your lawyer is doing what he can to get your case moving. If you owe discovery but cant meet with you lawyer to help respond, be available on the phone or an online service to help. Learn to use his or her service so you can make it easier for her. Be a good partner.
What Do We Expect in Legal Malpractice Following the Coronavirus?
Without any prior such calamities, we have no clear insight. However, we can project from what we have seen in the past as reasons for neglect. Stress and personal strife are at the root of many legal malpractice cases we have litigated in Massachusetts. The attorney was going through a divorce, depression or addiction problem and neglected a case to the point in which it could not be resurrected, the client lost, and suffered damages. Many cases seem to stem from attorneys neglecting a case or critical part of a case because he or she was too busy.
Following the Coronavirus of 2020 we fear that we will get calls from clients whose attorneys were unprepared to represent them in the changed circumstances of social distancing, working from home, and disorganization. When an attorney works from home, is she able to receive regular US Mail from her office and respond in a timely fashion? When an attorney doesn’t have his paralegal coming in his office daily to remind him to sign a motion or send out interrogatories to a client, will he be able to do it from home?
If your case is being neglected, work with your attorney to get it back on track. If your case was neglected and the negligence resulted in a loss, call us.
Call Burns & Jain for a free Legal Malpractice Consultation – We Are At Work Now
The attorneys at Burns & Jain are working, mostly remotely, on our clients’ cases. Our law clerk and paralegals are working, mostly remotely, on our clients’ files. We are responding to all calls and emails.
We have experience in evaluating legal malpractice cases and offer a free review of your case. Call 617-227-7423.