The importance of statutes of limitations

You went through an entire personal injury case. You thought you would win your argument without a doubt. Your attorney told you it was a solid argument with enough proof.

Then, you found out he failed to turn in documents on time and that you lost your first court date. You were able to go to the second, but by then, you were struggling to communicate with him and felt he didn't have your best interests at heart. You lost the case despite the evidence. Now you want to file a lawsuit against him for hurting your ability to get the compensation you needed.

A statute of limitations limits the amount of time you have to make a legal claim. There are two kinds, civil and criminal. New York has several statutes of limitations that apply to criminal cases, where the authorities have decided to pursue charges. In your case, if you want to pursue a claim against an attorney for malpractice, you need to know about the civil statute of limitations in most cases.

Statutes of limitations usually don't extend beyond six years, depending on the situation. For professional malpractice, there is a three-year limitation to bring a lawsuit. If you pursue a fraud case, there is a six-year limit. Libel and slander statutes of limitations are one year.

What should you do if you think you want to file a lawsuit against an attorney for malpractice?

Start by understanding the time you have left to file. If you only recently parted ways or lost a case, you may have up to three years to file. If the malpractice happened years ago, you may not be able to file, depending on how long you waited.

There are always exceptions to the rules, though, so no matter what situation you're in, it's a good idea to talk to an attorney about pursuing your claim. In some cases, new information may come to light after the statute of limitations runs out, and, in those cases, you may be able to get an extension to file a claim.

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