Business Insurance

The Top 10 Malpractice Traps For Lawyers


by Teri Peckinpaugh, Leavitt Group

  1. Missing Deadlines
  2. Stress & Substance Abuse
  3. Poor Client Relations
  4. Ineffective Client Screening
  5. Inadequate Research
  6. Conflicts of Interests
  7. Inappropriate involvement in Client Matters
  8. Lack of Documentation
  9. Zealous Efforts to Collect a Fee
  10. Unwillingness to Believe You May Be Sued for Malpractice

Missing Deadlines

Did you know that missing deadlines is the top malpractice trap for lawyers when being sued by a client?  Missing deadlines can happen to any attorney, including firms who are the most diligent at risk management practices.   In order to help circumvent this top malpractice trap, there are many tools a lawyer can utilize.  Implementing a strong cross reference system can help avoid missing a deadline.  There are several computer calendaring systems in today’s marketplace that can help.  These systems can alert the attorney before the deadline is missed.  By utilizing one of these systems and cross referencing with an office calendar, along with an office manager double checking dates on a consistent scheduled basis, the law firm can avoid missing an important deadline.

Claim Example:

An attorney was hired by an insurance company to defend a multi-death accident case.  The trial was lost, and the client (insurance company) was charged with a $5 million judgment.  The law firm stayed on the case to file an appeal but missed the appeal deadline by two days.  The client then had no way to challenge the judgment and had to pay.  As a result, the insurance company client sued the law firm and the attorney.

Did the law firm carry adequate limits on their insurance policy, and will their lawyers professional liability insurance policy cover the lawsuit presented by the client?  Did the law firm bring a qualified insurance broker into the planning process to help mitigate financial loss (one who specializes in attorney firms)?

When a risk management monitoring system is properly implemented and adequate lawyers professional liability insurance is purchased, this type of error can be circumvented, and the law firm can help protect itself against a major financial loss.

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