Claims Corner: Lawyers

In today’s economy, there are many professionals working as freelancers and independent contractors or in a part-time capacity.  Although their businesses vary, professionals tend to share strong education credentials or licensing, financial stability, successful business management, and expertise in their fields.  Something else professional share is the fact that their professional endeavors come with legal exposure.  

In today’s litigious society, claims and lawsuits against professionals have become all too common.  As such, it is important to carefully consider procuring professional liability insurance to cover the wide range of existing professional exposures.  Professional liability insurance allows part time professionals to practice with peace of mind.

Through this series of articles, we examine claim scenarios to illustrate the exposures professionals are faced with and identify best practices.

Case Study 1

The insured attorney represented a mother and her minor child in a medical malpractice case. After the attorney took the case, she was unable to find an expert to testify on behalf of the clients that the doctor’s actions fell below the standard of care. The attorney offered to refer client to another attorney but failed to put it in writing.  Instead, the client agreed not to pursue the case based on the attorney’s representations.

The attorney then agreed to a dismissal of the case against the doctor with prejudice.  Later, another attorney determined that the medical malpractice claim had merit after all, but it could not be pursued due to the previously entered dismissal.

Key Takeaway: Strong documentation is critical for any professional and particularly valuable to resolve a difficult situation or, even worse, defend a claim. The attorney should have taken this a step further to limit their exposure through a disengagement letter, which concludes the representation and the result of the matter. 

Case Study 2

The insured attorney represented adoptive parents in an adoption proceeding.  An order of adoption was initially secured from the court in favor of the adoptive parents.  Subsequently, the birthmother sought to regain her parental rights.  A trial was held and the court found that the adoption was flawed and issued an order vacating the judgment of adoption, setting aside the birthmother’s consent and reinstating the birthmother’s parental rights.  The adoptive parents lost the child and then sued their attorney for professional negligence. 

Want Further Insights?

Learn more through our Claims Corner series. While the claim examples may be profession specific, you can learn best practices insights regardless of your profession.

Disclaimer: The claim scenarios provided herein are hypothetical in nature and presented for illustrative purposes only. These scenarios are simply examples and do NOT represent a guarantee of coverage or payment. Insurance policies vary in coverage and some may not provide coverage for certain claim scenarios due to a variety of issues and facts that make each claim unique. Coverage decisions are subject to all terms and conditions of the applicable insurance policy, including specific exclusions and limitations, as well as applicable local, state and/or federal law. Absent an actual claim being presented to the company according to the provisions outlined in the policy, and a subsequent investigation occurring based on its merits, any type of a coverage determination cannot be made.

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