The majority of laws in California that allow people to file lawsuits have a statute of limitations attached. Essentially, a statute of limitations is a time limit on when you can file suit. Once the statute of limitations “tolls,” you no longer can sue over a legal dispute, such as a personal injury claim.
Just how long you have to take legal action, and when the clock starts ticking, depend on the legal right being invoked. But that length of time is clearly laid out in most cases. So when an attorney fails to file your suit in time, it is often a clear sign of legal malpractice. Due to this negligence, an injured person or business may not get the compensation they deserve -- unless they get it through a legal malpractice lawsuit.
A case from another state provides an example. A man was disabled in a serious car accident in February 2012. The crash was apparently the fault of the other driver. Due to his changed physical condition, the man could no longer pursue his studies in graduate school, and had to drop out. His vehicle was destroyed.
Seeking compensation for these injuries, the man hired a personal injury attorney. However, according to the man, his attorney somehow failed to file suit before the statute of limitations tolled. Therefore, the plaintiff never had the chance to seek compensation from the other driver.
He has now filed suit against his attorney, seeking damages for based on the claims he would have made if his personal injury suit had been filed in time.
Source: The Louisiana Record, “Law firm sued for legal malpractice by student who claims he was forced to drop out of college,” Kyle Barnett, Jan. 15, 2014