One of the most preventable attorney malpractice claims is a statute of limitations claim. The initial steps at client intake can help avoid or minimize your risk of being sued. The firm needs to document everything and to apprise your client in advance, and in writing, of the statute limitations of the law and any contract limitations that change the statute of limitations. It is important that the attorney gather and read any contracts (including insurance policies, employee handbooks, etc.) that might alter the statute of limitations. Your retention letter, signed by the client, must explain what you will and will not do.
Should you determine not to represent the client, send a nonretention letter and, if necessary, advise of the appropriate statute of limitations deadlines. While doing all of those things will not guarantee that you will never be sued, it will increase the likelihood of a successful defense
Most states have held that an underlying contract may alter the statute of limitations. Many attorney neglect to read the contract until it is too late. Once the dates have past, generally there is little the attorney can do but to notify their malpractice carrier and the client. Lawyer professional liability insurance underwriters have little sympathy with reviewing a risk for blown statute of limitation claims. Malpractice insurance carriers view these claims as very preventable claims.