2018 Legal Malpractice Report

Executive Summary

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 2018, 140 legal malpractice claims were closed, of which 49 resulted in payouts totaling $5.7 million. 

The most common claims were associated with alleged mishandling of cases involving bodily injury/property damage - plaintiff (28 claims, 13 paid claims), family law (24 closed claims; 2 paid claims), estate, trust and probate (21 claims, 8 paid claims), collection and bankruptcy (14 closed claims, 4 paid claims),  and corporate and business organization (10 claims, 4 paid claims).

The most common errors leading to a successful malpractice action include those pertaining to the commencement of action or proceeding (13 paid claims), pre-trial, pre-hearing (3 paid claims), preparation, transmittal or filing (11 paid claims), settlement and negotiation (7 paid claims), and consultation or advice (3 paid claim).

The most common type of error was the failure to know or properly apply the law (9 paid claims), planning or strategy error (2 paid claims), inadequate investigation (4 paid claims), and failure to ascertain deadline correctly (7 paid claims).

The average payment on a successful claim in 2018 was $116,945, down from $202,867 in 2017.

The majority of attorneys with paid claims had been in practice for over a decade.  Of the 49 paid claims that were closed in 2018, 45 were against attorneys with more than 10 years experience. 

In 2018, just 15 insurers provided legal malpractice coverage in Missouri, though only five had a market share greater than 1 percent.  Just four insurers controlled more than 92 percent of the market:

Insurer Market Share
Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Company 59.5%
Continental Casualty Company 19.2%
Alps Property & Casualty Company 6.9%
The Hanover Insurance Company 4.9%
Westport Insurance Corporation 2.2%

2017 Legal Malpractice Report

2016 Legal Malpractice Report

2015 Legal Malpractice Report

2014 Legal Malpractice Report

2013 Legal Malpractice Report