Timelines are incredibly important in the world of law. Many cases hinge on an exact sequence of events and can come apart if two things are out of order. Deadlines are equally important. If someone wrongs you in some way, you only have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit before you can no longer bring a case in court. In fact, you may have experienced this yourself if a lawyer neglected to file paperwork in a timely way, leading to the rejection of your case. When bringing your case against the offending attorney, you don't want to make the same mistake.
The Statute Of Limitations
The deadline for filing a particular type of case is referred to as the "statute of limitations." After that time expires, you can no longer bring legal action. In the state of Florida, there are different statutes of limitations for different kinds of lawsuits. Negligence claims have a statue of four years, while breach of contract carries a five-year statute.
For legal malpractice claims, the statute of limitations is two years.
When Does The Clock Start Ticking?
This is a crucial question, and it's harder to answer than you might think. The easiest situation is a case that has proceeded to final judgment. In these instances, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the two-year time frame begins to run once the judgment is finalized. This makes sense -- to demonstrate that a lawyer's negligence caused you to lose a case you should have won, you have to officially lose the case first.
However, other legal malpractice claims involve mishandled transactions, which have murkier landmarks. The two-year statute might start to run at the exact moment you discover the malpractice, or possibly when you've tried to mitigate or correct the malpractice and failed to do so. A judge could potentially designate another time as well.
Time Is Of The Essence
Because of the sometimes slippery nature of statutes of limitations, you should contact a legal malpractice attorney as soon as possible if you suspect that you may have a case. These are some of the most complex actions in the legal sphere, so it's important that the malpractice experts have as much time as possible for their significant case preparation. When in doubt, contact someone. The clock could run out sooner than you think.