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WHAT ARE THE TIME LIMITS FOR SUING MY LAWYER?

By: David L. Duff, Esquire
Virginia views the relationships of attorney-client as a contractual one, which can be created either orally, or through a written document. If your lawyer makes a mistake in the handling of your legal matter, and, as a result, you are damaged, then the period of time available to you for suing your lawyer for compensation will depend upon the nature of your contract of employment. This period of time is referred to as the "statute of limitations".
If you hire an attorney orally, whether over the telephone, or simply with a handshake, then the statute of limitations is three (3) years, beginning on the last day that the attorney worked on your legal matter. This means that, if the attorney makes a mistake that causes you to somehow lose money, then you are required to sue that attorney within three (3) years - or forever be barred from doing so!
Most attorneys prefer to have a written agreement with their clients, which expressly sets forth the legal matter for which they are being hired, as well as the financial terms of the hiring. With such a written agreement, the statute of limitations is thereby extended to five (5) years, commencing on the date that the attorney last worked on your legal matter.
In view of the difference in the statute of limitations that is available to you, should you find yourself in the position of having to sue your lawyer, it is important that you always insist that there be some documentation that establishes the hiring of the attorney and, hence, the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This will, then, provide you with the longer statute of limitations (5 years).
If you have concerns about the quality of the legal services provided by your lawyer, call The Duff Law Firm at (703) 591-7475 to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our attorneys.
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