2016 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 2016, 179 legal malpractice claims were closed, of which 62 resulted in payouts totaling $8.9 million.

The most common claims were associated with alleged mishandling of cases involving collection and bankruptcy (37 claims, 7 paid claims), estate, trust and probate (30 closed claims; 11 paid claims), bodily injury and property damage - plaintiff (27 claims, 7 paid claims), real estate (19 closed claims, 4 paid claims), and family law (18 claims, 9 paid claims).

The most common errors leading to a successful malpractice action include those pertaining to the commencement of action or proceeding (18 paid claims), the preparation, transmittal or filing (13 paid claims), categories not specified (10 paid claims), consultation or advice (5 paid claims), and settlement and negotiation (7 paid claim).

The most common type of error was the failure to know or properly apply the law (10 paid claims), planning or strategy error (5 paid claims), failure to ascertain deadline correctly (9 paid claims), and failure to calendar properly (6 paid claims).

The average payment on a successful claim in 2016 was $145,046, down from $156,550 in 2015.

The majority of attorneys with paid claims had been in practice for over a decade. Of the 62 paid claims that were closed in 2016, 60 were against attorneys with more than 10 years experience.

In 2016, just 14 insurers provided legal malpractice coverage in Missouri, though only four had a market share greater than 1 percent. Just four insurers controlled more than 94 percent of the market:

Insurer Market Share
Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Company 63.2%
Continental Casualty Company 21.5%
The Hanover Insurance Company 5.4%
Alps Property & Casualty Company 3.9%

2015 Legal Malpractice Report

2014 Legal Malpractice Report

2013 Legal Malpractice Report

2012 Legal Malpractice Report

2011 Legal Malpractice Report

2010 Legal Malpractice Report

2009 Legal Malpractice Report