Courts like to keep their process running smooth. Indeed, given how overwhelmed most courts are with cases, it’s imperative. The consequences for missing a court deadline can be strict and severe. Some are even required by statute. In other situations, your lawyer may be able to fix their mistake.

Could you lose your case because your lawyer missed a deadline?

In some cases, yes. Of course, it depends on which deadline your lawyer missed. Some are more important than others. For example, many civil cases in Louisiana have a one-year statute of limitations. This means you must bring your case within one year of the conduct at issue in order to have a claim. If you hire an attorney to bring a personal injury claim from a car accident on your behalf, but they miss the one-year due date, you might lose your chance at that claim forever.

On the other hand, if your attorney failed to timely object to a piece of evidence from the other side, that evidence may or may not cost you your case. It would depend upon the type of evidence and how persuasive it was.

Is there any way to fix a missed deadline?

Quick action can sometimes salvage a missed deadline. In federal court, the federal rules of civil procedure do have something called “equitable safeguards” for accidentally missed deadlines. The problem is that the rules are not hard and fast, and judges often have some discretion in whether to apply them. The underlying concept is fairness to both parties.

Your attorney can never guarantee you a particular result in your case. What they can do is follow the required steps to represent you to the best of their ability and fight zealously on your behalf. Meeting court deadlines is just the bare minimum expected of attorneys. If your attorney failed to follow through with your case, damaging your outcome, you may have a claim for legal malpractice.