Obviously avoiding errors and the associated risk of a malpractice claim is ideal. While understanding the trends and common errors that contribute to legal malpractice claims is important, taking proactive risk management steps, like sending engagement letters, is even more essential.
Risk management training and education services can help avoid claims, however they can be costly, especially for smaller firms or attorneys starting their own practice. Many malpractice insurance carriers, like Lockton Affinity Lawyer, offer complimentary risk management services, such as CLE courses, best practice tips and even a risk management hotline. Such services can generate substantial savings both now and down the road, as they may provide the answer that avoids a large claim.
Despite implementing risk management plans, good lawyers can make mistakes. Whether a signature gets missed on a critical document or the wrong procedure is followed for an appeal, mistakes can happen.
In the event a claim is filed against you for the services or advice you provided, follow these steps to best manage a malpractice claim.
Tips to Manage a Malpractice Claim
While a malpractice claim can be frustrating, intimidating and untimely, there are steps you can take to ensure the best possible outcome.
Don’t ignore or conceal the claim – While you may hope it just goes away or are concerned about cost of defense, action is better than inaction in the event of a claim. Concealment is also a bad option, as it may create a conflict of interest between the lawyer and the client’s best interest.
Involve your insurance company – At the first notice of a claim, lawsuit or potential claim, contact Lockton Affinity Lawyer. We will obtain the necessary information to get your claims process started.
Tell your client, but don’t admit liability – If your client was not the one to file the claim, be upfront with them about the incident. When attorneys are upfront and honest about an error, clients are more inclined to be understanding. However, never admit fault or agree to pay any money.
Get professional assistance – While you may consider defending yourself, emotions can get in the way of a clear, cool head. Legal malpractice defense can be a thorny and complicated area of practice. Therefore, when a lawyer’s work or character is being questioned, the defense should be steered by a professional liability claims team that specializes in the legal malpractice arena.
Listen – While you have the experience, it can be beneficial to let your legal counsel do their job. Focus on being a good client rather than obsessing over the claim.
No attorney wants to be in the position where their judgement or reputation is questioned, but knowing how to avoid a claim and where to turn in the event a claim is filed is crucial. Implementing proper risk management protocol, partnering with the right carrier and understanding the benefits of early notification can help you.
Find more tips about how to manage a malpractice claim and avoiding a claim altogether at Lockton Affinity Lawyer.
Swiss Re Corporate Solutions
Swiss Re is the world’s second-largest reinsurer, with offices in more than 25 countries. Lockton Affinity Lawyer’s Professional Liability products for California, Kansas, Missouri and Texas are underwritten by Westport Insurance Corporation, a member of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.
The Lockton Affinity’s Lawyer Insurance Program is administered by Lockton Affinity, LLC d/b/a Lockton Affinity Insurance Brokers, LLC in California. Coverage may not be available in all states and is subject to actual policy terms and conditions. Policy benefits are the sole obligation of the issuing insurance company.