The Ohio Statute of Limitations for legal malpractice is one year, but the statute can be tricky. A question that always arises is in these cases is when the one-year countdown begins to run. Many people who suffered harm from their attorney’s actions or inaction and who wish to file a lawsuit against their attorney for legal malpractice may be disappointed to learn they waited too long.
A “statute of limitations” is a law that identifies the maximum amount of time, usually a number of years, a person can wait before filing a lawsuit. If a person files a lawsuit beyond the time identified in the statute of limitations, that person runs the risk of having his or her lawsuit dismissed. Think of the statute of limitations as a countdown before someone’s potential lawsuit expires. The idea behind a statute of limitations is that people cannot reasonably be expected to defend themselves after so much time has passed because evidence may be destroyed, memories fade, and it becomes very difficult for a court to determine what really happened. On the other hand, people who have been harmed should have enough time before filing a lawsuit to realize they’ve been somehow harmed, to figure out whether or not they have a good case, and to discover who the responsible parties are.
The Ohio statute of limitations for legal malpractice begins to run when either of two events occurs. If both events occur, it is the later event that starts the statute of limitations running.
One event that begins the countdown is when the client made or should have made the connection that the harm he or she suffered is related to something his or her attorney did or did not do. Sometimes, but not always, clients should make this connection immediately when they experience the harm, like perhaps when the client loses his or her case. Sometimes however, because the legal process or the law itself is so complex, clients are not expected to have made this connection until they discover later on something that their attorney did or did not do which, for example, led to the client ultimately losing his or her case.
The other event that begins the countdown or statute of limitations to run on a legal malpractice lawsuit is when the attorney-client relationship ends. Often, the end of an attorney-client relationship is easy to determine because attorneys will send a letter to the client indicating that their relationship has ended. In any case, for an attorney-client relationship to end, either the attorney or the client typically must do something that shows they behaved in a way that goes against how an attorney and a client usually behave towards one another. For example, a client might meet with another attorney on the same matter.
The best way to make sure the Ohio statute of limitations for legal malpractice does not doom a legal malpractice lawsuit is to contact a legal malpractice attorney as soon as the client discovers his or her current attorney may have done something wrong. Also, so that it does not become too late to file a legal malpractice lawsuit, clients should contact an attorney who is experienced in handling legal malpractice cases, like Roni Sokol of The Sokol Law Firm, because they are likely to understand the ins and outs of the statute of limitations.