The Risk Manager, Fall 2003
The continuous representation rule tolls the statute of limitations for a legal malpractice suit as long as a lawyer continues representing a client in a particular matter after malpractice has been discovered. (See generally §22.13, Vol. 3 Legal Malpractice 428, 5th Ed (Mallen & Smith)). The Indiana Court of Appeals in Biomet Inc. v. Barnes & Thornberg (Ind. Ct. App., No. 02A05-0205-CV-197, 7/8/03) adopted the continuous representation rule citing the judicial policy of avoiding disruption of the attorney-client relationship, giving an attorney an opportunity to repair a mistake, and avoiding premature malpractice suits by clients.
Claims repair is a primary risk management tool. The continuous representation rule gives an erring lawyer the opportunity to conduct claims repair by correcting an error without disadvantage to the client’s claim if the lawyer is unsuccessful. It is equally important to avoid the rule if there is no hope of repair. Better to withdraw and start the statute of limitations than to drag out a losing situation with the probable result of increasing damages. Policyholders are encouraged to call Claims Counsel Jane Broadwater Long at 1-800-800-6101 for advice concerning continuous representation situations.
The Kentucky Supreme Court recognized the continuous representation rule in dicta in several decisions. For more information on this rule in Kentucky and our malpractice statute of limitations read “The Kentucky Malpractice Statute of Limitations – The Supreme Court Clears the Air” on our web site in the Avoid Malpractice Section, Bench & Bar Articles.
Source: “Indiana’s Continuous Representation Rule Tolls Malpractice Statute of Limitations,” ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct, Current Reports, Vol. 19, No. 15, p.397, 7/16/03.