Statutes of limitations in Florida and around the country place strict limits on the amount of time parties have to initiate legal actions, and attorneys may be sued for malpractice if they fail to file paperwork on behalf of their clients within the period allowed. In cases involving doctor or hospital errors, the time usually begins when the patient learns about, or reasonably should have learned about, the mistake.
These issues were recently at the center of a lawsuit filed by a Colorado woman against her personal injury attorney. The woman underwent a series of dangerous brain operations because her brain tumor went undetected for three years. She claims that her radiologist should have noticed the tumor on MRI scans that were ordered after she reported sudden and severe headaches. When the tumor was finally diagnosed, it had grown to 10 times its original size. The surgeries left the woman partially blind.
The woman initially wanted to sue the radiologist, but she chose instead to initiate legal proceedings against her attorney when she discovered that he filed her lawsuit after the three-year statute of limitations had expired. The attorney’s legal team blamed the woman for the mistake, but that argument did not impress the jury. The woman won the case and the attorney was ordered to pay her $1.2 million in compensatory damages. That figure could grow to as much as $3 million once interest has been factored in.
Attorneys are ethically bound to act in their clients’ best interests at all times. When they fail to meet this standard because of negligence, attorneys with experience in cases involving legal malpractice may pursue civil remedies on behalf of clients who have been harmed as a result .