PA: Underlying negligence and malpractice claim
FACTS: Client slipped and fell on an icy patch in a hospital parking lot, resulting in a broken knee. Client retained attorney to sue the hospital for negligence. Attorney did not conduct any discovery outside of visiting the parking lot, and did not file client’s claim within the statute of limitations. Client then brought suit against attorney alleging professional negligence and malpractice. Attorney’s defense was that he did not believe client had a viable negligence claim against the hospital. The case was tried under the theory that in an action for attorney negligence/malpractice, client must show that “but for” the attorney’s negligence, client would have recovered money in client’s suit against the hospital.
ISSUE: In Pennsylvania, what standard of proof does a client have to meet with respect to proximate cause in order to recover from attorney in a malpractice claim?
RULING: Client has to prove her underflying case against the hospital by a preponderance of the evidence in order to recover from attorney in a malpractice action.
LESSON: An attorney’s negligence in not timely filing a client’s case is not enough for recovery in a malpractice action unless the client can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he would have recovered in his other case.
Posted in: Pennsylvania