Blown Statute of Limitations – and Legal Malpractice – the Double Victim
When you enter into a fee agreement for an attorney to represent you in an accident case where you were injured – motor vehicle, premises liability, defective product, slip and fall, snow and ice case – in Massachusetts, there is a law, called the statute of limitations, in which your lawyer has three (3) years to file suit (in most situations). If your lawyer neglects your case and waits too long, you lose. You may, however, have a legal malpractice case.
Does a Missed Statute of Limitations Mean You Win in Legal Malpractice?
Back in the 1980s, I represented a young man who was badly injured at work. He retained a local lawyer who had lots of young associates and they got his medical bills paid through worker’s comp. However, the young associate neglected to file suit against the trash hauling company responsible for the accident within the three-year statute of limitations that applied, and a Superior Court judge in Lowell dismissed his case.
When I filed suit on behalf of my client, the malpractice insurance company retained a large law firm. The insurance defense trail attorney began the case by threatening to get the case dismissed because he claimed that there was a four-year statute of limitations in Mississippi, where the trash hauling company was headquartered, and that we needed to file suit there. Really? For an accident that happened in Lowell, against an attorney in Lowell? Nevertheless, they didn’t get anywhere with that defense.
However, what happened next was that they forced us to vigorously litigate the underlying case against an international trash removal company. After multiple depositions, expert witnesses exanimating the machine and writing reports, and a couple of years, they were willing to sit down and resolve the case.
So, no, just because your lawyer missed the statute of limitations, you don’t automatically win your legal malpractice case.
Retaining Competent Counsel in Statute of Limitations Malpractice Cases
After reading the above you can begin to understand one of the main issues: you still need to prove your underlying accident case notwithstanding the clear malpractice of failing to file suit within the statute of limitations. The malpractice insurance defense attorneys will fight every angle no matter how badly injured you were.
We have represented many double victims in such cases. They are the victims of an accident suffering an injury and then they are victims of legal malpractice, with little direction in the civil courts system until they find, and are comfortable with, competent counsel.
For good reason, such victims don’t trust the system – the insurance company worked against them in the first case so they retained an attorney , their own attorney did not aggressively or effectively advocate for them, and now they have to prove two cases – the underlying accident case and a legal malpractice case. They may need experts for both cases as well, adding costs, complexity and, as is the insurance company favorite, lots of room for misdirecting a jury.
Legal Malpractice Experience
We have been representing victims of legal malpractice since the 1980s. We have stood up to angry attorneys who claim they did nothing wrong; or that you had no case in the first place. We have stood up to malpractice insurance companies, and their aggressive trial attorneys for decades. We have the experience in representing the double victims of an accident and legal malpractice.
Call us for a free consultation.