My Lawyer Failed to Disclose an Expert—Is It Legal Malpractice?
Lawyers should always provide competent representation to their clients. If they make obvious mistakes and are negligent in their representation to the detriment of their client, they may be liable for legal malpractice.
A common mistake lawyers make is failing to give the other side notice of an expert witness or, even worse, not seeking expert testimony at all when it is needed. Our Connecticut legal malpractice lawyers explain what you should know.
What Is Legal Malpractice?
Legal malpractice happens when a lawyer fails to meet the standard of care they owe to a client. Lawyers have obligations to fulfill in their representation, and they can be held liable if they fail to do so.
Legal malpractice claims possess the following elements:
- The lawyer and client form an attorney-client relationship,
- The attorney breached their duty of care,
- Their mistake or negligence caused you harm, and
- You have suffered actual harm due to the attorney’s breach of duty.
The Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct describe the standards lawyers must adhere to. The Preamble states that a lawyer must be competent, prompt, and diligent when representing a client.
What Is an Expert Witness?
An expert witness is someone who has the skill, knowledge, experience, training, or education that allows them to form an opinion concerning scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge. Attorneys call upon expert witnesses to explain complicated problems to juries.
Common examples of expert witnesses include doctors for medical cases and accident reconstruction experts for car accidents. For instance, Medical experts can explain how a physician’s actions caused an injury or the standard of care expected of a physician in a particular area of practice.
Expert witnesses produce essential testimony that can be the difference between winning a case and losing one. Even if a lawyer successfully obtains expert witness testimony, they still have to give appropriate notice of expert witness to the court and the other party.
Expert Disclosure Rules
Connecticut Rules of Civil Procedure stipulate that lawyers must provide a disclosure of an expert witness to the other party in the litigation. The lawyer must disclose who each expert is and all documents used to support their expert testimony.
Beyond merely making these disclosures, there exists a slew of other information that must be provided, among other things:
- Fees and expenses of the expert witnesses;
- The substance of expert opinions;
- Grounds for these opinions;
- Names, addresses, and employers of the expert witness; and
- All written reports provided by the expert witness.
Expert disclosure may seem like a complicated process, but to your lawyer, it should be standard practice. You should never have your case dismissed or an expert excluded because your lawyer was negligent in their expert witness disclosure or failed to get expert testimony.
If you lose your case or recover less than you should have because your attorney did not comply with disclosure requirements, you may have a strong case for legal malpractice against them.
We’re Here to Help
If your attorney failed to disclose an expert or you believe they committed other legal malpractice, do not hesitate to contact us at StangerLaw, LLC. Our Connecticut law office is dedicated to loyalty and open communication with our clients. We will hear your case and work with you to help you get the compensation you need.