The lawsuit by Christ Academy against Hermes Sargent Bates was only recently filed. Assuming the firm has adequate insurance limits, and there are no coverage disputes with the carrier, the insurance company will likely move quickly to control defense expenses and damages. Fee disputes and breach of contract claims are typically not covered by a malpractice insurance policy. To trigger the firm’s malpractice coverage, the plaintiff’s attorney had to allege professional negligence. It’s possible the case will be dismissed or the firm will prevail on summary judgment. Most likely the matter will be resolved through an out of court and confidential settlement. Whatever the outcome, the firm has suffered tremendous damage.
The attorney for the firm has publicized the lawsuit on the internet, which could lead to the need for the lawyers to protect their reputation by hiring a public relations firm. Some policies provide coverage for this type of service, others do not.
The insurance company has opened a claim file for this firm and set reserves for damages and claims expenses. If those reserves are high, the insurance company may decline to renew the firm’s insurance coverage. Other companies may decline to insure the firm in the future. Those companies that will provide coverage will likely charge a much higher premium.
The firm may also be required to pay its policy deductible before the insurance company incurs claims expenses and damages. Some firms choose a high deductible to reduce annual premiums.
In addition to the financial toll a malpractice claim has on a firm, there is an emotional cost to the lawyer involved. Lawyers are highly educated, trained professionals who have an ethical obligation to treat their clients fairly and represent them competently. A malpractice claim, by its nature, suggests the lawyer breached the standard of care required by the profession. Practicing law is stressful. Defending a malpractice claim can only increase the level of stress an attorney experiences.
To avoid claims, and to help manage the financial costs and stress of a claim after it occurs, lawyers are advised to work with a professional insurance broker who can provide access to quality coverage, risk management resources and serve as an advocate during the claims process. For more information about your options for lawyers professional liability insurance, contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 242-7250.