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Common Litigation Errors: Missed Deadlines

by Claire Modlin |

Missed deadlines remain the number one source of claims at Lawyers Mutual. Although it appears missed deadlines would be an easy error to avoid, we see it all too frequently. Missed deadlines can include missed statutes of limitations, missed deadlines to obtain alias and pluries summons, missed discovery deadlines, and missed appellate deadlines. Having a good docketing and calendaring system, as well as a routine surrounding deadlines, can help avoid this all-too-common mistake. 

Here are a few strategies that may help:

  • Break a deadline up into multiple small tasks. Schedule having a draft of the complaint done by the 6-month mark.  Send the draft complaint to the client for review by the 5-month mark. Send the final draft for verification by your client at the 4-month mark.  Docket getting the complaint filed by the 3-month mark. 
  • Put multiple docket entries on the calendar surrounding a deadline. If you only docket the final deadline, you risk a legal malpractice claim.  Instead, give yourself a cushion with multiple dates. For example, if you have an expert designation approaching, put in a reminder notice with ample time to remedy any problems, then a second reminder that the deadline is getting close and finally a reminder that the deadline will be missed if action is not taken.    
  • Establish a routine regarding docketing deadlines. If possible, designate one person to enter deadlines on a calendar that you and all your support staff can access. Either you, an associate or another support person should be responsible for double-checking that the deadline has been entered and that the deadline is accurate. Set aside a regular time each week where you review any upcoming deadlines with your associates and support staff team. 

Unfortunately, even with the best system in place, mistakes can happen. If you do find that you have missed a deadline, reach out to the claims department at Lawyers Mutual to see if there are any claims repair options. 


About the Author

Claire Modlin

Claire is the Vice President of Claims. She joined Lawyers Mutual in 2017 and previously served in the role of Underwriter and Senior Claims Counsel. Prior to joining Lawyers Mutual, she practiced in the areas of civil litigation, medical malpractice defense, insurance defense, and transportation. Claire actively practiced in both large and medium-sized firms in North Carolina for 22 years.  You can reach Claire at 800.662.8843 or at claire@lawyersmutualnc.com

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