One of the recurring themes that I see is that a client has a problem with a lawyer, but the client waits years and years before addressing what to do about it. Inevitably, the statute of limitations (2 years from discovery of injury) runs while the client deals with other issues.
First, if you are the subject of a bad ruling in a case, ask your lawyer to appeal the ruling. If the decision cannot normally be appealed, ask the trial court to certify it for an immediate appeal. Rule 304 allows a litigant to attempt to certify a question for an appeal:
Rule 304. Appeals from Final Judgments That Do Not Dispose of an Entire Proceeding
(a) Judgments As To Fewer Than All Parties or Claims—Necessity for Special Finding. If multiple parties or multiple claims for relief are involved in an action, an appeal may be taken from a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the parties or claims only if the trial court has made an express written finding that there is no just reason for delaying either enforcement or appeal or both. Such a finding may be made at the time of the entry of the judgment or thereafter on the court’s own motion or on motion of any party. The time for filing a notice of appeal shall be as provided in Rule 303. In computing the time provided in Rule 303 for filing the notice of appeal, the entry of the required finding shall be treated as the date of the entry of final judgment. In the absence of such a finding, any judgment that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties is not enforceable or appealable and is subject to revision at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims, rights, and liabilities of all the parties.
Second, if you cannot appeal soon, work to resolve the case quickly and obtain a final judgment from which you can appeal.
Third, if you suspect that your lawyer made a serious error that cost you money, contact an experienced malpractice lawyer right away.
Too often, we meet people who may have been able to attack a bad ruling with an appeal or a new lawyer, who fail to do anything for years. We cannot help those people. Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion.
Edward X. Clinton, Jr.