When you hire an attorney in California, they have a duty to prepare your case as best as they can and make sure every aspect of it is properly organized. Even the simplest of mistakes can cost you dearly. Unfortunately, a common mistake among negligent lawyers that leads to numerous legal malpractice trials is the failure to meet a deadline.
While some courts do have the option to extend deadlines depending on the circumstances, there have been many instances where the client loses the case because their lawyer did not turn in documents in time or show up on the right date. As you select your legal assistance for your upcoming case, it is important to be aware of what deadlines could ruin your case if your attorney misses it.
Completion of discovery
In litigation cases, defendants and prosecutors have a limited amount of time to search for any evidence or information to support their arguments and share with each other. While both sides can impose deadlines for a response, the discovery period in California should typically end 30 days before the trial and have motions for the new findings heard before the 15th day.
The design of this helps promote a fair trial and avoids possible last second surprises that the other side would lack preparation for. It can also speed up the court process and potentially save both sides time and money. If your lawyer fails to request any potential fair evidence from the opposition in this time period, it can make you significantly less prepared for the case.
Filing the complaint
If your lawyer misses this crucial deadline, then you will not be able to sue the party that wronged you at all. Each potential lawsuit has a set amount of time before the plaintiff can no longer sue them. These are known as the statutes of limitations, and they vary by the type of case you want to pursue. For example, if you wanted to sue someone for breaching a written contract in California, the complaint must be filed before 4 years after the breach.
Once you determine that you are able to file a complaint against someone, your lawyer should file the complaint as soon as they can. Part of this may depend on how fast you request the attorney’s assistance after the opposition’s violation, so it is important that you are timely about the matter as well.
Response to the opponent
Both sides can receive summons and complaints and have a number of options for how to respond. They can file cross-complaints, demurrers, oppositions or even settlements to determine how the case proceeds. Like the statutes of limitations, these vary depending on what you are responding to and how you choose to do so. Your side could receive serious consequences if your lawyer fails to respond with any of these.
For example, if you were being sued and your lawyer did not respond to the plaintiff’s proposed settlement that you found agreeable, then the plaintiff could take you to court and sue you for even more. All of this could have been prevented if your lawyer responded within a couple of weeks to the proposal.
It is important to familiarize yourself with the different due dates of your case proceedings so you can communicate with your lawyer and see how far along they are in the filings. If your lawyer misses any of these crucial deadlines, then they are guilty of legal malpractice.