Legal Malpractice: My Lawyer Cost Me My Case

Professionals in all capacities differ in their abilities, carelessness, skill, or lack of desire to serve their clients; attorneys are no exception. An attorney is sworn to serve the best interest of his or her clients to the best of their ability, and a failure to do so can often cost the client a great deal, whether lost compensation from a civil case, or lost freedom in a criminal trial. One of the most frequent failures in the practice of law is a missed deadline. There are statutes of limitations in place for almost all types of legal actions, and missing this critical time limit can cost their client the entire case.

My Lawyer Missed the Statute of Limitations

There are a number of reasons that a lawyer will fail to act quickly enough, and miss the critical time limits provided by the statue of limitations. Whether he filed papers in the wrong place, was unaware of a statute of limitations, or simply forgot, a case will be thrown out if it is not filed in time.

Any attorney that fails to meet the statue of limitations, or any other critical dealine, can be sued for legal malpractice and held liable for the damages caused.

Attorney Negligence and Legal Malpractice Time Limits

If an attorney causes damage to his or her client due to neglect to file a suit in time, he or she can be held liable for the damages cause the client. Keep in mind though, there is a statue of limitations for filing a legal malpractice suit. Typically, the time limit is three years.

Did the Initial Case Have Merit?

With regards to legal malpractice, this is one of the most important questions that must be answered before any action can be taken against an attorney. If the initial case, that is, the case that was lost due to legal malpractice, was not meritorious, then a legal malpractice action will not be either. This is best explained with an example.

Let's say that a client hires an attorney to represent her for a medical malpractice claim. Let's also assume that the medical malpractice claim did not have merit, because the doctor was not found to be negligent. If the attorney fails to file the claim before the statue of limitations expires, the claim will not be heard. However, no damage was done, because the initial claim could not have won anyway, so whether or not the attorney filed the claim in time the outcome would have been the same.

However, if the initial claim was valid, and the doctor had been negligent, then the missed deadline would have cost the client the compensation that otherwise would have been awarded.

Legal malpractice is a complicated area of law, and an experienced legal malpractice attorney should be consulted prior to any action being taken.