Legal Malpractice Report
Legal malpractice insurance covers attorneys for claims arising out of the performance of their professional duties. Malpractice claims generally assert that the attorney rendered services that fell below generally accepted standards. For example, lawsuits may allege that documents were not properly completed or filed, that errors were committed in the interpretation of law, or that other improper advice was given to a client.
In 2015, 179 legal malpractice claims were closed, of which 50 resulted in payouts totaling $7.8 million.
The most common claims were associated with alleged mishandling of cases involving bodily injury and property damage – plaintiff (37 claims, 15 paid claims), collection and bankruptcy (36 closed claims; 6 paid claims), estate, trust and probate (21 claims, 5 paid claims), real estate (18 closed claims, 5 paid claims), and family law (15 claims, 5 paid claims).
The most common errors leading to a successful malpractice action include those pertaining to the commencement of action or proceeding (16 paid claims), categories not specified (12 paid claims), the settlement and negotiation (4 paid claims), the preparation, transmittal or filing (3 paid claims), and other written opinion (1 paid claim).
The most common type of error was the categories not specified (6 paid claims), failure to ascertain deadline correctly (7 paid claims), failure know or properly apply the law (4 paid claims), and fraud (4 paid claims).
The average payment on a successful claim in 2015 was $156,550, down from $172,895 in 2014.
The majority of attorneys with paid claims had been in practice for over a decade. Of the 50 paid claims that were closed in 2015, 46 were against attorneys with more than 10 years experience.
In 2015, just 12 insurers provided legal malpractice coverage in Missouri, though only four had a market share greater than 1 percent. Just three insurers controlled more than 92 percent of the market:
|Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Company||65.3%|
|Continental Casualty Company||21.4%|
|The Hanover Insurance Company||5.6%|