Is it too late to file a legal malpractice claim?

If you had the knowledge and experience to handle your court battles yourself, you would not need an attorney. When you have a legal issue, you rely on someone you believe has the knowledge, experience and attention to detail needed to handle the matter on your behalf. If your trust turns out to be misplaced, you could decide to file a legal malpractice claim, but is it too late by the time you discover the problem?

Here in New York, you have three years to bring a claim against your attorney for malpractice. Do you know when that three-year statute of limitations begins? It probably is not as apparent as you may believe. Calculating this date often does not mean simply going back to when you believe the mistake was made. It is more complex than that.

For instance, if the attorney in question missed a deadline, failed to conduct proper due diligence or violated some part of the code of ethics early on the case, but you did not find out about it until after your attorney-client relationship ended, did the three-year time limit begin to run when the mistake happened or after the relationship ended? Under these circumstances, your time may not start until the lawyer stopped representing you. This "continuous representation" doctrine protects New York residents like you from an attorney who hid the malpractice from you when it occurred.

What all this means is that you may still have the chance to file a legal malpractice claim against an attorney who somehow failed you and caused you to incur damages as a result. Before you can move forward, you will need to ascertain whether the statute of limitations has expired. Since these issues can be tricky, you would probably benefit from having an experienced attorney answer this question for you instead of assuming it is too late.

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