Ways to Find Out If an Attorney Has Malpractice Insurance

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Attorneys do make mistakes, and they could damage a client's case. Malpractice insurance serves as a safety net for a client to recover if legally injured. But as many as 30 to 50 percent of lawyers in the United States do not carry insurance, and they may not have enough personal assets to cover any damages. How do you know if your attorney has malpractice insurance?

Just ask

  • When you're about to hire an attorney, simply ask if he has malpractice insurance. Some states, like Oregon, require attorneys to maintain minimal insurance while others require attorneys to disclose whether they carry insurance or not. Some state bar associations, as in Washington and Illinois, require lawyers to report their insurance situation annually.

Name of insurer and claims paid

  • If your attorney says she carries insurance, ask for the name of the insurer and the limits and deductibles of the coverage. And ask if the insurer has paid any claims as a result of poor work by your attorney, or check with the insurer yourself to see if any claims have been paid. If claims have been paid, ask your attorney for the details.

Certificate of Insurance

  • Ask the attorney for his Certificate of Insurance, which is proof that he carries insurance. And make sure that the insurance covers the type of legal work the attorney is doing for you.

Why no insurance?

  • If your attorney doesn't carry professional liability insurance, then ask why. In states where insurance is not required, many attorneys do not carry insurance for valid reasons. New attorneys, for instance, cannot afford the premiums while others may be self-insured.

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