After a lawsuit is filed, there are various pre-trial deadlines set by the Court. For example, the court may set a deadline for taking depositions and completing other pre-trial discovery procedures. It may set a deadline for identifying expert witnesses. It may set a deadline for filing motions, brief and pre-trial statements.
If an attorney misses any of these deadlines, it may doom the case. So, for example, if a case requires an expert witness, and the court has set an absolute deadline for appointing an expert witness, the failure to secure an expert witness by the mandated date, may lead to the dismissal of the case. If, in fact, the case is dismissed because of the lawyer’s failure to obtain an expert witness, this would constitute an act of legal malpractice – entitling the client to damages.
Example: Mary Jones has suffered a paralyzed limb as a result of an act of medical malpractice. To prove the medical malpractice, Mary’s lawyer will need to retain the services of a neurosurgeon. The court, in the medical malpractice case, has set a final deadline of May 10, for Mary’s lawyer to produce an expert report by a neurosurgeon and June 10 as the deadline for the neurosurgeon to submit to a deposition by the defense attorneys. Yet, despite the availability of many neurosurgeons who could be consulted for such services, Mary’s attorney has neglected to retain one, or to obtain a report within the requisite deadline. No report is produced by May 10, and no neurosurgeon is presented for deposition by June 10. Because of these missed deadlines, Mary’s medical malpractice lawsuit is dismissed.
Mary now has a basis to sue her own lawyer – for legal malpractice.
Neglecting court deadlines is not just sloppy lawyering; it’s risky business. It may lead to fateful consequences. When it results in malpractice, the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick is here to help.