Law Office

Daniel A. Zahn, P.C.


Legal Malpractice

 Medical Malpractice

 Wrongful Death

 Serious Personal Injury






We are only one of a few law firms that actually represent a client against their former or present attorney for legal malpractice in Suffolk County. We do not take the suing of a lawyer or a law firm for legal malpractice lightly. We only file cases where we truly believe that legal errors or mistakes have occurred which caused a client actual harm and damages. Not all mistakes and errors that lawyers can make will form the basis for a legal malpractice action.

If a lawyer's mistake or error has caused you actual harm, the law permits the client to be fully compensated for their financial harm or commonly referred to as pecuniary losses. In legal malpractice actions, the law further permits interest to be recovered or added to the amount of the actual financial loss to the client at the rate of 9%. The interest is measured by going back to the date that the error or mistake was made by the lawyer and adding 9%, per year, until the date the actual loss is paid. The 9% interest added to the actual amount of the loss to the client can itself be very substantial.   

Legal or lawyer malpractice is a growing area of the law. In the not to distant past such actions were rarely filed. Even today, legal malpractice law suits are not particularly favored by the trial courts and of course, by many lawyers themselves. As part of this portion of our simple website we have included some common errors and mistakes that lawyers can make which may be the basis for a legal malpractice action. These errors and mistakes may take the following form:

  • Failure to follow or know the law or telling the client something that isn't true according to the law 
  • Inadequate knowledge or investigation into the underlying facts, the actual amount of available insurance coverage(s), not identifying of all those who are liable to the client, the amount of the full assets belonging to those liable to the client, the untimely disclosure to the client of all their related claims and legal rights to collect from the liable party for all their lawful damages,
  • Missed liens or rights to subrogation or the denial of other benefits a client is or could be receiving which should have been known and addressed prior to any settlement of the law suit
  • Inadequate settlement of a client’s claims or the settlement of valid claims for less than full value because of the malpractice or errors committed by the lawyer   
  • Missed deadlines by failing to timely file a law suit, make a claim for under-insurance and/or uninsured coverage, filing a Notice of Appeal,  complying with prior orders of the court, timely paying settlement proceeds, failing to file a Notice of Claim within 90 days after the incident against governmental entities or municipalities or school districts and/or failing to commence a law suit within a year and 90 days after the incident against governmental entities or municipalities or school districts.
  • Failure to properly present and/or to preserve all claims and rights of the client prior to and during the trial, including but not limited to making or timely making important motions or asserting counter or cross claims, carefully reading important documents and pleadings, timely noticing the other side of experts who will testify at trial, presenting all material evidence in support of the claims of the client and calling to testify all material witnesses.      
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Errors or omissions that resulted in a lawsuit being dismissed or prevented claims from being asserted
  • Improper legal advice that you relied upon to your detriment and which caused you actual harm 
  • Dishonesty or deceit 
  • Breach of fiduciary duties such as loyalty, self dealing or revealing a client’s confidential information
  • Failure to inform a client or to get the consent of a client on significant matters involved in the law suit such as settlement offers and demands
  • Failure to follow the lawful instructions or directions of the client
  • Many other situations and circumstances beyond this simple website

There are many other instances of errors and mistakes that can form the basis of a legal malpractice action that are not listed above. If you have any questions about other errors and mistakes that may have been committed by your former or present lawyer, call our office and speak directly with Mr. Zahn who will personally answer your questions based upon the specific facts and circumstances of your situation. You will be glad you did.


In addition to a client’s claim of legal malpractice against their former or present lawyer, if a lawyer "intentionally" engages in conduct against the client's interests, the law provides the client with additional legal remedies against the lawyer which may include punitive damages or treble damages. Two of these additional legal remedies may be for “breach of fiduciary duty” or a violation of "section 487 of the Judiciary Law” which are briefly discussed below. 

The law provides and practicalities require that an attorney-client relationship be a very special and unique relationship. A relationship that is based upon the utmost trust and loyalty owed to the client by the attorney. Anytime an attorney puts their own interests (financial or otherwise) above those of the client or when the attorney breaches the client’s confidentiality, loyalty or trust, the law in New York permits a claim to be filed against the attorney for “Breach of Fiduciary Duty”.

A claim for a breach of fiduciary by the attorney can be a separate claim apart from or sometimes in addition to a claim for legal malpractice. In serious breach of fiduciary duty cases, often involving intentional conduct by the attorney, a court may award as part of the client’s damages a return of all or part of the legal fees paid to the attorney. 

In addition to an attorney’s breach of fiduciary duties owed to the client, there is a very old statute dating back to the times of common law England and is set forth in section 487 of the Judiciary Law. Given a recent decision by the Court of Appeals, the statute has had a rebirth and is now often applied to the more egregious conduct of an attorney committed during the course of a filed law suit. A client who is able to prove a violation of the statute by their former or present attorney in a civil action is entitled to recover from the attorney three (3) times the value of their actual damages. The statute reads:

 “An attorney or counselor who:

             1.  is guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any deceit or

collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party; or,

             2. Willfully delays his client's suit with a view to his own gain; or

             3. Willfully receives any money or allowance for or on account of any money which he has not laid out, or becomes answerable for,

 Is guilty of a misdemeanor, and in addition to the punishment prescribed therefor by the penal law, he forfeits to the party injured treble damages, to be recovered in a civil action.”

Call our office if you have any questions about the law in the State of New York concerning what is a breach of an attorney’s fiduciary duties to a client or what conduct of an attorney may form the basis of a violation of section 487 of the Judiciary law and speak with me about your questions and the specific facts and circumstances of your situation. In the end, you will be glad you did.

The materials contained in this website are for information purposes only and not meant to be and should not be construed as legal advice. Viewing this website is not intended to nor does it create any attorney-client relationship.  Our practice and all information on this website is limited to the laws of the State of New York. This is attorney advertising.
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