How Long Do You Have To Sue an Attorney for Malpractice?

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How Long Do You Have To Sue an Attorney for Malpractice?

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When an attorney fails to meet the mark it can have disastrous consequences for their clients, which is why negligent attorneys can be held liable for their malpractice, and clients who have been harmed have the ability to sue their previous lawyers for damages — but what are the parameters on when you can sue your lawyer? How long do you have to sue an attorney for malpractice?

Ross Sears and the lawyers who sue lawyers at Sears Crawford know how to sue an attorney in Texas, and can help you right the wrongs caused by your previous lawyers, getting you the justice you deserve and bringing justice to the legal system.

If you or a loved one has suffered at the hands of a negligent attorney, call Ross Sears of Sears Crawford today at (713) 223-3333 to discuss your case.

What are the requirements for legal malpractice in Texas?

What is legal malpractice? In its most essential form, legal malpractice occurs when an attorney causes you harm in a way that would have been avoidable had a more reasonable and prudent attorney taken your case. For an attorney to commit legal malpractice three essential elements must be present:

  1. They owed you a duty. The first and foremost requirement is the existence of an attorney-client relationship. This means that you must have hired an attorney to represent you in a legal matter. This can occur by either a verbal or written contract.
  2. That duty was breached. Your legal malpractice attorney must demonstrate that your previous attorney breached their duty of care. This breach of duty typically involves the attorney acting in the way that a reasonable and prudent attorney would NOT act (or not acting when they should act) under the same or similar circumstances, failing to perform competently or uphold the standard of care expected from legal professionals.
  3. That breach caused your case harm. It must be proved that there is a direct connection between the attorney’s negligence and the harm done to your case. Establishing that the attorney’s actions or omissions were a substantial factor in causing or contributing to the client’s losses is sometimes referred to as proximate cause.

Can you sue for malpractice in Texas? YES. You absolutely can. As long as your case is brought within the statute of limitations.

What is the statute of limitations for legal malpractice in Texas?

So, how long after your lawyer breaches their duty do you have to sue them? In Texas, this is determined by the statute of limitations. The Texas legal malpractice statute of limitations sets the time limit within which your legal malpractice lawsuit must be filed.

In Texas, the statute of limitations for legal malpractice claims is generally two years from the date of discovery of the malpractice. This means you have a two-year window, starting from the date that you become aware (when you knew or should have known) of the attorney’s negligence, to file a lawsuit.

It’s important to note that determining the exact date of discovery can be complex in some cases, and the statute of limitations can be subject to interpretation. For this reason, consulting with an experienced attorney is crucial if you believe you have a legal malpractice claim.

What is the most common reason for malpractice?

While there are a lot of reasons to be upset with your lawyer, not all of them constitute legal malpractice. Some of the common examples of legal malpractice that we see at Sears Crawford include the following behaviors.

  • Missed deadlines. If your attorney misses an important deadline for filing legal documents or motions to the court and it impacts your case, they might have committed legal malpractice.
  • Conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest can severely compromise an attorney’s loyalty to their clients. They should not represent anybody with competing interests, or stand to benefit in any way from your misfortune.
  • Failure to know or apply the law. If your attorney attempts to take on a case outside of their area of expertise and cannot give sufficient counsel, they might have committed malpractice.
  • Failure to obtain client consent. This often applies to taking settlements without client consent, but if an attorney makes any large decisions that change the trajectory of a case without their client’s express approval, it could be malpractice.
  • Inadequate discovery. If your attorney fails to discover key information that is necessary to the execution of your case during the discovery process, they might be liable for malpractice.
  • Fraud. Fraud is an umbrella term that encompasses any sort of self-dealing by an attorney for personal gain. This could give rise to claims for Breach of Fiduciary Duty, which is a separate misconduct by the attorney that occurs when self-dealing is involved, or where an attorney puts their own interests ahead of their client.
  • Overbilling or unconscionable fees. Unreasonable hourly fees or misappropriation of client funds can also be grounds to sue your lawyer. This could also give rise to claims for Breach of Fiduciary Duty.
  • Breaches of contract. When attorneys fail to fulfill contractually stipulated obligations, that breach of contract might mean malpractice (Continue reading about how to sue for breach of contract).

Not every mistake your lawyer makes means that you should sue them for malpractice, but if the list above looks familiar, you might want to call an experienced lawyer who sues lawyers and get their opinion.

How to find a lawyer to sue another lawyer

You’ve decided that you want to sue your lawyer, but hiring another lawyer is probably the last thing you want to do. This is why it is so essential to hire the right lawyer this time around. You need a trusted lawyer with a proven track record, who can make things right, and simplify your life instead of complicating it even further. We recommend that you do the following:

  1. Use reputable websites to search for law firms that specialize in malpractice. We recommend checking with the Texas Bar Association and once you have a good attorney in mind, to make sure that they have a clean record and that they are respected and experienced. Ross Sears has been a Texas Super Lawyer for 13 years running. We recommend that you hire someone who is board certified in Personal Injury Law, which encompasses Legal Malpractice.  
  2. Read reviews on their Google My Business page. You should see satisfied clients talking about cases that look similar to yours. If there are any dissatisfied clients, how did the law firm respond to the criticism? Do they seem like professionals?
  3. Additionally, you should make sure that the attorney you hire carries malpractice insurance. Sears Crawford carries malpractice insurance — although we are proud to say that we’ve never had to use it.

Before you hire any attorney, make sure he or she carries malpractice insurance to protect you if they screw up your case.  If they do not, we recommend that you RUN! Do not walk away from their office, and hire a different attorney that does carry malpractice insurance to protect their clients.

Call Sears Crawford today, because you don’t have long to sue your attorney for malpractice!

How long do you have to sue an attorney for malpractice? Generally speaking you only have two years from the date you discover the malpractice, with few exceptions. If you believe that your attorney breached their duty to you and harmed your case, you might have a valid legal malpractice claim and may be able to sue them to set things right.

It is vital that those looking to sue their previous lawyers hire the right attorney to take their case. Don’t hire the first face you see on the back of a park bench, and definitely don’t hire someone who doesn’t specialize in legal malpractice in Texas.

Ross Sears has been suing lawyers in Texas for over 30 years. If your previous attorney harmed you or a loved one, don’t take action without first calling Ross, the legal malpractice attorney at Sears Crawford. Call Ross today at (713) 223-3333 or contact us online for a consultation.

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