Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | October 30, 2009

Ask Your Lawyer If He Carries Malpractice Insurance; You May be Surprised

I’ve posted here and here about the responses of lawyers in two different states to the proposal that they be required to disclose to their clients whether or not they carry professional liability insurance. In general, the publicized responses have been against it.

I would like to share a modest proposal for dealing with this issue. Best of all, it doesn’t even have to involve the lawyers at all.

Let me begin by pointing out that the essence of professionalism is responsibility; doing the right thing not because you will get in trouble if you don’t, but simply because it is the right thing to do. Seen in this light, carrying professional liability insurance to protect your clients/patients against the financial ramifications of your inadvertent errors is the responsible course of action.

When presenting oneself to the public as a professional, it is to be hoped that one is representing that one is responsible. Therefore the vagaries of whether or not a given group of professionals (ie, doctors) is required by law to carry malpractice insurance is immaterial. It is not unreasonable for a medical patient, a legal client, or a patron of any other professional to assume that said professionals carry insurance appropriate for their business.

As came to my attention via the above linked posts, there are apparently large numbers of attorneys who do not take the responsible course of carring liability insurance. Here’s what I propose we do about it:

I propose a large public service campaign to educate the public about the fact that many lawyers do not carry malpractice insurance. Just as consumers have been sufficiently educated to inquire of their doctors whether or not they are board certified, we should explain why it is important to ask their attorneys whether or not they carry malpractice insurance. The idea, of course, is to raise the question of why would one would want to engage the services of someone too irresponsible to protect his clients’ interests.

Any philanthropist out there want to donate a couple of billboards?


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