Attorney Fees are almost universally excluded from the definition of damages in attorney malpractice policies. Punitive damages may or may not be excluded from malpractice coverage, but still may not be permitted by your state.
Your insurer may pay defense costs and the award for damages in a covered malpractice claim. Fees and sanction awards are another matter. Fees or sanction awards often exceed the value of the underlying claim. Awarded punitive damages could dwarf the underlying case.
The time to check for coverage is not after the punitive damage award. So how can you determine whether a particular malpractice insurance policy covers punitive damages? Punitive damage awards are normally awarded for egregious acts some malpractice policies provide coverage other policies exclude the coverage. Just because it is excluded does not mean you will find it in the ‘exclusion section’. The more common place to find the punitive damages ‘exclusion’ is in the damages definition. In the AmGuard policy it is the definition of damages:
SECTION VI – DEFINITIONS
E. DAMAGES means the monetary portion of any judgment, award or settlement, provided such settlement is negotiated with the assistance and approval of the Company. Damages do not include:
1. compensation for bodily injury to, sickness, disease, death of any person, emotional distress or other emotional judgments or awards;
2. compensation for injury to or destruction of tangible property or loss of use or value thereof;
3. personal profit or advantage to which the Insured was not legally entitled;
4. criminal or civil fines, penalties (statutory or otherwise), fees or sanctions;
5. punitive, exemplary or multiple damages;
6. matters deemed uninsurable;
7. legal fees, costs and expenses paid to or incurred or charged by the Insured, no matter whether claimed as restitution of specific funds, forfeiture, financial loss, setoff or otherwise, and injuries that are a consequence of any of the foregoing;
8. any form of equitable or non-monetary relief;
9. any prejudgment interest accrued prior to a final adjudication.
Click here for Punitive/Compensatory Damages Allowed by State
CLICK HERE TO OBTAIN AN ATTORNEY MALPRACTICE QUOTE
This blog is an excerpt from the policy. The complete policy along with applicable endorsements could impact the information provided above.
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Lee Norcross, MBA, CPCU
California License # 0D87292
L Squared Insurance Agency, LLC ® DBA in California as
L2 L Squared Insurance Agency, License # 0L93416
Managing Director, CEO
(616) 940-1101 Ext. 7080