Generally speaking, any legal malpractice claims you intend to file in California must be made within one to four years of the act your attorney allegedly committed to cause you harm. The exact limit depends on the details of the case. The year-long countdown usually begins at the time that you, the plaintiff, discover the omission or wrongful act in question. You typically have four years to discover the error. This is a relatively firm limit, but there are several situations delineated in the statute of limitations that can extend this period.
As described in the California Code of Civil Procedure, there are certain conditions that extend the maximum time you have to commence action on a legal malpractice case, including the following:
- You have not been injured
- You are unable to begin your case due to a legal or physical disability
- Your attorney knows he or she has done something wrong, but withholds that information from you
- You are currently involved in the case your malpractice claim concerns and represented by the defendant attorney
In the case of lack of injury, you might use this section of the law to prepare a case of legal malpractice in advance of harm. If it turns out the alleged act does not result in injury to you, the likely course of action would be to abandon the case. The other situations, as well as a peculiarity concerning criminal cases and proof of innocence, all have one thing in common: They might extend the maximum time you have before you need to begin your legal malpractice case past the stated limit of four years. Please keep in mind that the purpose of this material is for information only, not to guide your decisions or provide legal advice.