If you have suffered a serious personal injury, you need every penny of compensation an attorney can help you obtain. When your lawyer fails to provide competent counsel, you could be left with nothing at all while still struggling with medical bills, wage loss and other hardships arising from your accident. Here are three of the most common ways legal malpractice can derail a personal injury case and what you can do about it.
A missed statute of limitations
The statute of limitations on personal injury claims in New York is three years in most cases. This means that if three years have passed since the date of your accident and you have yet to take legal action, you lose your right to hold the at-fault party accountable. For claims arising from medical malpractice, the time limit is only two and a half years.
It may seem like nothing could possibly prevent you from bringing forth a claim within a multi-year time span, but it happens, especially when the attorney handling the case is negligent in his or her duties.
A lawyer may sue the wrong party, sue in the wrong venue or fail to take any action at all, even though you have done everything on your end to initiate the claim. As the months pass, you may think your lawyer is busy working on your case, but in fact, all he or she is doing is allowing the clock to tick down to the date you lose your right to sue. By the time someone discovers the mistake, the statute of limitations may have already passed.
Failure to know and apply the law
If your attorney is not even familiar with the statutes relevant to your personal injury case and how they apply in your unique set of circumstances, opposing counsel will have an easy day in court. A thorough grasp of the relevant legal concepts is necessary at all stages of representation, from pre-trial motions to discovery to trial and settlement.
Inadequate discovery and investigation
Personal injury cases are very fact-specific. If your attorney overlooks one crucial piece of evidence, your legal prospects may suffer as a result. A quick investigation is also necessary. If your lawyer waited too long while important evidence eroded and disappeared, you may have a valid legal malpractice claim.
You may have legal options
If your attorney truly did commit malpractice, you have strong laws that can help you obtain justice and compensation for the losses you have suffered. By taking the right legal steps now, you can make progress toward righting the wrong that was done to you.