St. Denis & Davey, P.A.

Legal Malpractice Issues

Court justifies insurer in paying lower coverage limit

| Sep 1, 2017 | Professional Malpractice Law |

Most in Jacksonville likely only associate the concept of a “standard of care” to the medical field, which is why whenever news of a malpractice lawsuit surfaces, it automatically assumed to refer to a lawsuit filed against a doctor. Yet the truth is that a standard of care exists in all fields. The concept itself is that service performed should be at the level expected of a reasonable person operating in a similar capacity, whether that be a doctor, lawyer, engineer or insurance adjuster. When such a standard is not met, those expecting it (who in some cases, have subscribed to it) may claim malpractice

Unfortunately, claiming a standard was met does not necessarily mean that it may have occurred. That is what a Pennsylvania lawyer was told after a ruling in favor of his professional liability insurer was recently upheld. The dispute arose after insurer only paid for the attorney’s defense costs for a lawsuit that had been filed against him. The insurer stated that is was following its coverage limits in only covering up to $500,000 per claim (in this case, the attorney’s defense costs were $420,000, and he had $525,000 judgment returned against him). The appellate court ruled that the lawsuit filed against the attorney constituted only one claim, thus only obliging the insurer to pay out up to the single claim coverage limit. 

Often, case details like the ones described above can be open to interpretation. Thus, any party that feels that a service provider failed to meet an obligation to it (despite the provider’s claims to the contrary) may still want to consider taking action. Its chances of success might be bolstered if it had the assistance of an experienced attorney on its side. 

Source: Business Insurance “Legal malpractice ruling favors Swiss Re” Greenwald, Judy, Aug. 04, 2017