Can I sue my lawyer for missing the statute of limitations applicable to my car accident claim?
While the typical answer to this question is “yes”, it can have some caveats like a lot of other legal questions. For one, a simple question as to whether one can sue their lawyer for missing a statute of limitations often creates a subset of questions. First, did you retain the lawyer to represent you with respect to your car accident claim? In most car accident cases, the lawyer will have you sign a contingency fee agreement. That is typically solid evidence that you retained the lawyer to represent you with respect to your car accident claim. If you do not have a signed fee agreement, you may have other evidence to demonstrate that you reasonably believed that the lawyer would be handling such a claim for you.
If you retained the lawyer to represent you, then the lawyer obviously had a duty to exercise reasonable care in the handling of your claim. If your lawyer missed the statute of limitations applicable to your car accident claim, then your lawyer may have failed to exercise reasonable care in the handling of your claim. And, as such, you may have grounds for a legal malpractice lawsuit against them. In general, legal malpractice occurs when an attorney fails to provide competent representation, and that failure results in harm to the client. If an attorney does not file a lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, then that may be grounds for a legal malpractice case. However, it’s important to note that you may need to prove that you would have won your original case if not for your attorney’s negligence.
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit for filing a legal claim in court. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure that legal disputes are resolved in a timely manner and to protect defendants from stale claims that may be difficult to defend due to the loss of evidence or the fading of memories over time. The time limit set by a statute of limitations varies depending on the type of claim and the jurisdiction where the claim is filed.
The statute of limitations for a car accident case in Maryland and the District of Columbia is generally three years from the date of the accident. This means that a person who has been injured in a car accident in Maryland has three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their injuries and other damages resulting from the accident. If a lawsuit is not filed within this time frame, the injured person may lose their right to pursue legal action against the at-fault party. It is important to note that there may be exceptions to the three-year statute of limitations, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. And, with respect to accidents involving governmental entities, an injured party may have a shorter period in which he or she has to give notice of their claim as a condition precedent to filing a lawsuit.
With some exceptions, once the statute of limitations has expired, the injured party is usually barred from filing a lawsuit to pursue the claim. It is important to be aware of the statute of limitations applicable to your legal malpractice claim, as failing to file a claim within the statutory period can result in the loss of your right to pursue the claim in court.
If you believe that your attorney committed legal malpractice by missing the statute of limitations applicable to your car accident claim, then you should make sure that you preserve any and all information that may be relevant to such a claim. In particular, you should preserve: (a) Medical records and bills related to the personal injury claim; (b) Police reports and other documentation related to the accident or incident that caused the injury; (c) Correspondence between you and the attorney, including emails, letters, and other written communication; (d) Billing statements and invoices from the attorney; (e) Any court filings or other legal documents related to the personal injury case; (f) Any insurance policies or declarations pages; and (g) Any documents related to settlement negotiations or discussions with insurance companies. And, you should also consult with a legal malpractice attorney to discuss your options. If your potential case is in Maryland or the District of Columbia, then the lawyers at Henderson Law, LLC are available to discuss your potential claim with you.