Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Legal Malpractice Cases

Blog, Legal Malpractice

What is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is a legal provision that sets a specific time frame within which a lawsuit must be initiated. Failure to file a lawsuit within this designated time period results in the court dismissing the case as untimely. The statute of limitations duration varies among states, but it generally ranges from two to three years for legal malpractice cases.

Why is There a Statute of Limitations for Legal Malpractice Cases?

Several reasons underlie the existence of a statute of limitations for legal malpractice cases. Firstly, it ensures that lawsuits are brought promptly. With the passage of time, evidence can be lost or become challenging to obtain, and the recollection of witnesses may fade. This can hinder both the plaintiff and the defendant in receiving a fair trial.

Secondly, the statute of limitations serves to safeguard defendants from being subject to lawsuits many years or even decades after the alleged malpractice took place. It is considered unjust to expect defendants to preserve evidence and defend themselves against legal actions for an indefinite duration.

Thirdly, the statute of limitations fosters closure within the legal system. Once a lawsuit has been initiated and resolved, the involved parties should be able to move forward with their lives.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Commence in a Legal Malpractice Case?

In most instances, the statute of limitations for a legal malpractice case begins to run from the date when the malpractice occurred. However, exceptions exist to this rule. For example, the statute of limitations might be suspended, or “tolled,” if the plaintiff was unaware of the malpractice or if the defendant engaged in fraudulent concealment of the malpractice.

How Long Do I Have to File a Legal Malpractice Lawsuit?

The time frame within which you must file a legal malpractice lawsuit is contingent on the statute of limitations specific to your state. Typically, this limitation spans two to three years, although there are variations in different states, with some having longer or shorter periods.

What Happens if I Exceed the Statute of Limitations for a Legal Malpractice Lawsuit?

If you surpass the statute of limitations for a legal malpractice lawsuit, the court will dismiss your case as untimely. This signifies the forfeiture of your right to sue the defendant for the alleged malpractice.

How Can I Safeguard Myself from Exceeding the Statute of Limitations for a Legal Malpractice Lawsuit?

To protect yourself from exceeding the statute of limitations for a legal malpractice lawsuit, you can take the following steps:

Stay informed about the statute of limitations applicable in your state.

Maintain a record of essential dates in your case, including the date of the alleged malpractice and the date of your discovery of the malpractice.

Seek guidance from an experienced legal malpractice attorney if you have any concerns or questions regarding the statute of limitations.

If You Suspect Legal Malpractice

If you believe you have been a victim of legal malpractice, it’s crucial to promptly consult with an experienced legal malpractice attorney. An attorney can assess your case, determine the viability of your legal claim, and, if applicable, assist you in filing your lawsuit within the designated time frame to safeguard your rights.


Understanding the statute of limitations in legal malpractice cases is essential. If you suspect legal malpractice, seek the counsel of an experienced legal malpractice attorney without delay. An attorney can provide guidance on your rights, options, and help prevent you from exceeding the statute of limitations.