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 2013, 267 legal malpractice claims were closed, of which 21 resulted in payouts totaling $3.1 million.
The most common claims were associated with alleged mishandling of cases involving real estate (48 closed claims; 2 paid claims), bodily injury and property damage – plaintiff (45 claims, 3 paid claims), collection and bankruptcy (42 closed claims, 1 paid claims), family law (30 claims, 5 paid claims), and corporate and business organization (29 claims, 4 paid claims).
The most common errors leading to a successful malpractice action include those pertaining to categories not specified (6 paid claims), the commencement of action or proceeding (2 paid claims), the pre-trial, pre-hearing (5 paid claims), and the preparation, transmittal or filing (3 paid claims).
The most common type of error was the categories not specified (3 paid claims), failure to ascertain deadline correctly (0 paid claims), planning or strategy error (5 paid claims), and failure know or properly apply the law (3 paid claims).
The average payment on a successful claim in 2013 was $149,794, down from $189,209 in 2012.
The majority of attorneys with paid claims had been in practice for over a decade. Of the 21 paid claims that were closed in 2013, 16 were against attorneys with more than 10 years experience.
In 2013, just 14 insurers provided legal malpractice coverage in Missouri, though only four had a market share greater than 1 percent. Just three insurers controlled more than 95 percent of the market:
Insurer Market Share
Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Company 71.0%
Continental Casualty Company 20.2%
Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company 4.2%
|Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Company||67.0%|
|Continental Casualty Company||15.6%|
|The Hanover Insurance Company||9.6%|