Is It Legal Malpractice If My Lawyer Missed a Deadline?
As attorneys, we are held to a certain professional standard that helps us be advocates for our clients.
While many attorneys make mistakes, it’s our job to provide competent, knowledgeable service. If your lawyer missed a filing deadline, you’re probably wondering if it constitutes legal malpractice.
Here’s what you need to know about defining malpractice and how our Connecticut legal malpractice law firm can help if you sustain damages.
Professional Conduct Rules
The state of Connecticut, like other jurisdictions, has rules of professional conduct that all attorneys must follow. Oddly the courts for a long time did not allow these Rules to be used to determine malpractice in a claim by a client.
These rules may determine the minimum legal knowledge required of a practicing lawyer and how they respond to time limits. Rule 1.3 states that a lawyer must “act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.”
So, what does this mean?
Based on the commentary provided in the rule book, legal malpractice may occur when a lawyer’s procrastination negatively impacts their client’s case.
However, a lawyer isn’t expected to pursue every realized advantage in a case. This means that while some deadlines are up to the discretion of the lawyer, others are too important to delay. Missing certain deadlines not only hurts the client, but may also sink the case altogether. The ultimate determining factor may be if the client was materially damaged by the breach of a rule.
Ultimately malpractice cases against lawyers are only about damage to the client. A civil malpractice claim is quite simply to get damages for the breach of a standard whether in a Rule or simply established what a reasonable lawyer should do.
It is not about punishing the lawyer, that is what a grievance is for. Filling a grievance does not result in an award of damages but it can result in punishing the lawyer.
Which Missed Deadlines Are Legal Malpractice?
If your lawyer failed to file on time, it’s only worth bringing a claim if the legal malpractice affects your case. For example, if an attorney skips a deadline for a filing that’s not pertinent to the case, it may not constitute malpractice.
However, if your lawyer missed a court deadline or missed a discovery deadline, there may be more serious consequences. This unreasonable delay often causes problems for the case in the future, such as a lack of evidence or case dismissal.
Another scenario where missing traditional deadlines may not be legal malpractice is in the case of mutual postponement or state-ordered suspensions. In March 2020, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont suspended time requirements for some court filings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This suspension lasted for the duration of the executive order, giving more time for certain types of cases. However, this doesn’t prevent your attorney from properly calendaring deadlines and important dates.
Is it Legal Malpractice If My Lawyer Missed The Statute of Limitations?
Perhaps one of the obvious examples of legal malpractice is failing to file before the statute of limitations. This is because it often destroys the client’s case, leaving them with no way to pursue their claim.
When a lawyer fails to meet the statute of limitations, they can be held accountable for the damages that would have been awarded to the client if the case had been filed on time.
If your attorney missed a filing deadline regarding the statute of limitations, we recommend contacting our Connecticut legal malpractice attorneys immediately.
Is Your Lawyer Missing Case Deadlines? Call StangerLaw LLC
If your lawyer missed a filing deadline and isn’t taking reasonable steps to pursue your case, they should be held accountable.
At StangerLaw LLC, we take legal standards very seriously and believe you have the right to competent representation. We have decades of experience representing clients with attorneys mishandling their cases.