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Legal Malpractice Statute of Limitations

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2016 | Articles, Legal Malpractice


If you have been wronged by an attorney or lawyer or any other legal professional, and that wrong has led to damage or injury to your person, then you will have the right to seek justice.

However, it’s important to note that in order for that court proceeding to go ahead, a lawsuit must be filed within a certain time-frame or deadline. If you are unable to file the lawsuit with the court before the deadline has run out, you will ultimately lose your right to recover any compensation.

Statute of Limitations

The deadline in place in regards to legal malpractice lawsuits is called the statute of limitations. Often, legal malpractice claims are based on issues of negligence, breach of contract, or breach of fiduciary duty. In cases of legal malpractice, the statute of limitation can be defined as one of two dates. Whichever deadline date comes first should be the one that you use to calculate your deadline.

The first date option is the date on which the attorney wronged you, plus four years. The second date option is the date that the client should have, or actually discovered the wrongdoing, plus one year.

There is an exception in place if the attorney in question has committed actual fraud. In this case, a different statute of limitations that lasts for a period of three years will apply.

The Delayed Discovery Rule

In California, the option for the deadline that begins one year after the client discovers the wrongdoing will not start until that client has had actual knowledge of the facts involved in the wrongdoing. Under the rule of delayed discovery, the statute of limitations will begin when the plaintiff suspects, or begins to suspect that his injury was caused by his or her attorney in some way. In other words, if you are concerned that you may have been affected by legal malpractice, it is important to seek out the facts and contact a legal malpractice attorney as quickly as possible.

Keep in mind, however, that if the four-year deadline does apply first, the delayed discovery rule will not apply.

Complications of SOL law

Because the laws surrounding the statutes of limitations are often highly complex, it’s important to speak to a lawyer as quickly as possible if you feel that you may have grounds for a legal malpractice case. Even if you believe that the deadline for your personal statute of limitations has passed, it’s worth speaking to a professional, as there are some exceptions that can extend the amount of time any plaintiff has to seek justice for malpractice.

To learn more about the statutes of limitations involved in a legal malpractice case, or to get advice, please contact Makarem & Associates at your earliest convenience. The lawyers at M&A will be able to offer you the best information in order to proceed with your case. Ron Makarem is a Certified Legal Malpractice Specialist by the California State Bar. Your consultation is completely confidential and at no cost. Call 800-610-9646 or email [email protected].