Have you ever had to meet an important deadline only to find out that you missed the deadline by one day? Now imagine that you must meet a very important deadline but you don’t know what the date is, and the person you hired to meet that deadline dropped the ball.
When this happens with a lawsuit, your chances of recovering your losses from someone who was negligent or who mistreated you are gone. Or are they?
Recovering from missed lawsuit deadlines
If a lawyer you hired to represent you misses an important deadline in your case, you may be able to recover your losses from that lawyer. This is referred to as a legal malpractice lawsuit.
From previous blogs, you’ve learned that you have a limited time to file a lawsuit. This deadline is called a “statute of limitations.” Different types of cases have different statute of limitations. For example, a personal injury lawsuit in California must be filed within two years of the date of the accident or injury. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are limited.
Other deadlines that must be kept during lawsuits
The initial filing of a legal claim — a complaint — is only one of many deadlines that your lawyer must meet in order for you to prevail in a case, including:
- Filing an “answer” to a complaint
- Serving and providing proof of service on the parties you are suing or adding to the lawsuit
- Responding to a pleading — a formal document filed with the court
- Asking for an extension to respond to a pleading
- Requesting a default judgment against a party who has failed to respond to the complaint
- Obtaining the default judgment from the court
If this doesn’t make a lot of sense, that is understandable. You hire a lawyer to keep track of what to file and when, making sure that your rights are protected throughout your case. If your lawyer drops the ball at any point along the way and his or her mistake or omission causes you financial harm, you may have a legal malpractice claim.