What is the Statute of Limitations in a Florida Legal Malpractice Case?
Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 95.11 (4)(a)), professional malpractice claims, including legal malpractice claims, are generally governed by a two-year statute of limitations. In other words, clients have two years to file a claim against their attorney/law firm for negligence. Below, our West Palm Beach legal malpractice lawyers explain the most important things you need to know about how the statute of limitations applies to these cases.
Strict Two-Year Statute of Limitations for Legal Malpractice Lawsuits
A client who suffered damages as a result of the negligence by their lawyer or law firm may be eligible to recover financial compensation through a legal malpractice claim. In Florida, these claims are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. A client who is considering filing a malpractice claim against an attorney or law firm must do so within two years of the date that the action accrued. If they fail to bring their claim before the deadline, the case may be time-barred and automatically dismissed as a matter of Florida law.
Legal Malpractice Statute of Limitations: When Does the Clock Start?
In theory, applying the statute of limitations to a legal case is relatively straightforward. If a claim is not filed within two years, it cannot be filed at all. Of course, in practice, determining the relevant statutory deadline can be far more complicated. This raises an important question: When does the statute of limitations clock start running in a Florida legal malpractice case? The short answer is that the statute of limitations begins on the date that the action accrues.
The Action Accrues When All Elements of the Claim are Satisfied
To determine if an action has accrued, Florida uses the redressable harm test. An action will accrue on the date when the last element that gives rise to the cause of action has occurred. With a legal malpractice lawsuit in Florida, there are typically three basic elements that a plaintiff must establish:
- An attorney-client relationship was formed;
- The attorney acted in a negligent manner; and
- The client suffered losses as a result of negligence of the attorney/law firm.
In most cases, the elements occur in the order listed above. In other words, the final element occurs and the cause of action accrues on the date that the client suffers actual losses or damages. With limited exceptions, the statute of limitations clock will begin ticking in a legal malpractice claim on the last date when the client (plaintiff) sustained redressable damages.
Call Our West Palm Beach Legal Malpractice Defense Attorney Right Away
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida legal malpractice defense lawyers are standing by, ready to protect your professional license and your professional practice. If you are facing a potential legal malpractice claim or a bar complaint, call us now for a confidential consultation. With a law office in West Palm Beach and another location in Miami, we represent attorneys throughout Southeastern Florida.