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Tick tock: California court weighs in on malpractice timing issue

Both California plaintiffs and defendants in legal malpractice cases often have questions and concerns as to when the clock starts running on a malpractice case.

To be more specific, parties in such litigation need to know when the so-called "tolling" period that holds a relevant statute of limitations in abeyance ceases, spelling the moment from which the time period allowed for filing a claim begins running.

Knowing that is obviously important for a would-be malpractice defendant, who is obviously quite happy for any confusion residing in an injured party that might result in the running of a statute, which effectively bars the filing of an action.

Making an error regarding the timing aspects of a claim can be flatly catastrophic for an individual or company in California that suffers material injury directly resulting from a retained law firm's negligent or willful behavior.

The bottom line for any injured party is both clear and urgent, namely this: Contact a proven legal malpractice attorney without delay to ensure that applicable deadlines are not missed and every aspect of a claim is professionally addressed and attended to.

A recent California appeals case underscores the importance of that.

A state appellate court ruled in favor of the defendant law firm in that matter. The court held that, even though an attorney with the firm had not officially withdrawn from the case when plaintiffs commenced a legal action, a formal withdrawal was not necessary as a starting point to stop tolling of the relevant statute of limitations. The plaintiffs had effectively retained another attorney before that point and had additionally received a letter from their formal counsel providing notice that the firm was "no longer the client of record.

The result: California's relatively short one-year time frame for filing had passed before the plaintiffs sought to sue their formal counsel, even though that firm had not yet formally withdrawn from the case.

Again, such a tale -- and others that highlight the multi-pronged complexities inherent in many aspects of a legal malpractice claim -- stresses the importance of a would-be litigant alleging malpractice harm to act with resolve and dispatch in contacting proven malpractice counsel.

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