While most people might think that legal malpractice claims are something of a rarity, this is far from the case. Indeed, statistics have shown that anywhere from 5 to 6 percent of all private attorneys in the U.S. face some manner legal malpractice claim each year.
While it's always an option for attorneys in these situations to represent themselves, the reality is that this takes both time and money, and that those lacking experience in this complex area of the law may find themselves at a considerable disadvantage. It's for these exact reasons that many private attorneys elect to secure legal malpractice insurance.
What exactly is legal malpractice?
At its core, legal malpractice is any intentional or negligent action/inaction undertaken by an attorney that causes a client some manner of undue injury (i.e., monetary damages) in any area of the law. For example, failing to secure the necessary witnesses for trial or drafting legally unsound documents.
What then does legal malpractice insurance cover?
As you might imagine, legal malpractice insurance is designed to provide private attorneys with the necessary coverage in the event they are sued by a client for some form of damaging misconduct. By way of comparison, consider the medical malpractice coverage secured by physicians to cover everything from misdiagnoses to surgical errors.
The majority of legal malpractice policies provide "claims made" protection, such that attorneys are covered for any claims made during the policy period despite when the purported misconduct actually occurred. However, it's important to note that these policies sometimes provide only partial coverage, and/or exclude claims alleging theft, fraud or other intentional harm.
We'll continue this discussion in our next post …
In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about your options concerning legal malpractice, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can explain the law and outline your options.