A missed deadline or a statute of limitations is a very common attorney mistake which may, depending on the circumstances, result in a legal malpractice claim. Many claims have statutes of limitation that bar any recovery if the lawsuit is not filed timely. Additionally, deadlines often apply to certain discovery and other matters, whether the deadline is one by rule of one that has been set by the judge. A missed deadline or blown statute of limitations can be devastating, as it can be a bar to any claim or recovery and can be fatal to any party–plaintiff or defendant. In most legal malpractice cases, an expert is necessary to explain the relevant standard of care and why the standard of care was not met. But sometimes, this type of malpractice (blowing a deadline or statute) is so evident that no expert is needed to prove the plaintiff’s legal malpractice case against his former attorney.
One example of a blown statute of limitations is for breach of contract claim. In Illinois, for a written contract, the plaintiff has 10 years to file a claim for breach of contract (735 ILCS 5/13-206 ). The lawsuit must be filed within the 10 year deadline. If a client seeks the advice of an attorney relating to the breach and the attorney fails to file the lawsuit within the 10 year period, the attorney could be liable for legal malpractice. Other examples of legal malpractice include the failure to answer request for admission of fact and the failure to meet court ordered deadlines. Both instances could potentially lead to a valid claim for legal malpractice. Still, each element of legal malpractice must be present for a claim to survive, including damages to the plaintiff.