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How important are deadlines in lawsuits?

We all get our dates mixed up sometimes — and the same holds true for attorneys representing their clients. Sometimes it is an honest mistake that does not cause much harm. But what if it’s more? What if your attorney’s error means you cannot pursue your case?

First off, there are ways to reduce the risk of these mistakes

There are lots of different tools available to help better ensure a law practice does not miss important dates. This includes the use of an in-office electronic calendar as well as a back-up if something were to go wrong. Attorneys, for example, can use reminders to help better ensure they get paperwork to the court on time.

Firms can implement additional safeguards, such as the requirement that attorneys file all lawsuits with the courts a set time period before the statute of limitations. This would result in a type of safety net. If the filing due date is missed as a result of unexpected external factors, there would still be time before the required time limit expired to get that filing into the court.

Moving on, options if an error has a negative impact on your case

Unfortunately not every legal practice makes use of these relatively easy practices. In fact, mistakes within the calendar remain one of the leading causes of legal malpractice claims.

A mistake that results in injury to the client, such as missing a statute of limitations and causing the client to lose their ability to claim their legal position in a case, is a violation of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. These rules require attorneys to act with reasonable diligence and promptness when representing a client. In these situations, the term reasonable generally means how a prudent attorney would act in a similar situation. Those who believe their legal counsel failed to represent them in a prudent fashion and this failure led to the inability to state their claim in court may be able to hold that attorney financially accountable through a legal malpractice claim.