Two Year Statute of Limitations – Legal Malpractice Settlement

Be careful trying to understand the “statute of limitations”. Be careful checking critical legal concepts on google. And this can be good advice for lawyers, too!

We recently represented a client who was a victim of legal malpractice because his attorney did not understand the statute of limitations in that case. Here’s the story: A homeowner was a victim of a hurricane which damaged his home on the South Shore of Boston. There was a lot of damage so he contacted his property insurance company, which happened to be Mass Property Insurers. The client and the insurance company tried to determine the extent of the damage; however, the insurance company shortchanged the homeowner and the claim was not resolved. That happens a lot with insurance companies, especially property insurance companies – they shortchange folks given their advantage in the situation.

The Contract Case and Legal Malpractice

So, the homeowner hired a lawyer. The lawyer said, “I’ll get right on it. I know what to do. I’m going to file a claim with them.” The homeowner said to the lawyer, “There’s a two-year statute of limitations, according to the insurance contract.” The lawyer said, “Don’t worry. I’m a lawyer. I understand the statute of limitations.” Guess what? The lawyer didn’t understand the statute of limitations. After two years went by, he still hadn’t filed suit! He was negligent. Unfortunately, when he finally tried to file suit, at that point the insurance company moved to dismiss the lawsuit and won.

The homeowner hired a second lawyer. The second lawyer went after Mass Property Insurers under 93A, the Consumer Protection statute, which has a four-year statute of limitations, and the homeowner won on that claim. But of course, it wasn’t a win on the underlying case. The homeowner had lost his rights to file a breach of contract claim – a basic insurance claim. Thus, he did not get his full damages.

The Legal Malpractice Case Against the Negligent Massachusetts Lawyer

The homeowner came to us for a legal malpractice case against her first lawyer. After undertaking significant research into the statute of limitations in this particular case – against an insurance company who had a short statute built into the insurance contract, we accepted the case against the homeowner’s first lawyer.

We reviewed the case with the second lawyer, and we went through the claim with the property insurers. We got an expert on the issue of what the damages were, and we filed suit against the negligent lawyer. Given the overwhelming evidence, we were able to successfully settle the case for our client.

Significantly, this was a case in which the statute of limitations was two years. The lawyer didn’t know it. He had the written insurance contract which stated it. The client, his client, informed him of it. He should have known it, understood it, and acted on it. As a result, his client was a victim of legal malpractice.

Call Burns & Jain if Your Lawyer Blew the Statute of Limitations

Important cases require aggressive, knowledgeable, competent lawyers. When to file suit is a significant part of any insurance claim. Most injury cases have a three-year statute of limitations. Most contract

cases have a six-year statute of limitations. This case, however, because of the writing in the property insurance contract, had a two-year statute of limitations. When our client’s first lawyer neglected to do his due diligence and blew the statute, our client became a victim of legal malpractice (in addition to being a victim of the insurance company failing to resolve his claim).

If you are a victim of legal malpractice regarding a statute of limitations, or civil litigation negligence, or a failure to properly litigate in a case, or your criminal lawyer’s negligence results in incarceration, or your landlord tenant lawyer neglects your case, call Burns & Jain.

We’ve been representing victims of legal malpractice for over 30 years. Neil Burns has been practicing law here in Massachusetts since 1985, and at 6 Beacon Street, since 1987. Roshan Jain has litigated legal malpractice cases against the biggest insurance defense firms in Massachusetts.

Call Burns & Jain for a free consultation: 617-227-7423.