At CNA, we take a collaborative approach to claim handling. We work closely with our insureds to achieve the best possible outcome. For our insureds, this facilitates informed decision-making, fewer surprises and an overall smoother claim process. While no two Lawyer’s Professional Liability (LPL) claims are alike, the following examples illustrate a range of LPL claim scenarios.
Professional Liability Claim #1
The claimant retained a CNA insured to pursue a personal injury action after a motor vehicle accident. The claimant was rear ended by another vehicle and sustained neck and back injuries. The accident occurred in New Jersey, but the insured erroneously docketed the statute of limitations for a New York action, which has a longer statute of limitations. Because of the insured’s error, the claimant was barred from bringing a personal injury action against the other driver.
Following the accident, the claimant was diagnosed with a lumbar region tear and herniation at L5-S1 level in his lumbar spine, and underwent a decompression and fusion surgery.
Given the lack of liability defenses, unpaid medical bills in the amount of $79,000, pain and suffering prior to the surgery for nearly a year, an invasive back surgery and recovery period, and potential for hardware replacement and revision back surgery.
Total expense and indemnity was approximately $285,000, covered by CNA.
Professional Liability Claim #2
A CNA insured represented claimants in connection with a commercial loan. The claimants intended the loan to be a non-recourse loan to avoid being held personally liable in the event of a default.
Several years later, the loan went into default and the note was sold to another lender. The new lender filed suit against the claimants and sought to hold them personally liable based on their interpretation of the loan documents.
The interpretation of the loan contract, drafted by the CNA insured, became at issue and the court determined the contract was unambiguous in the lender’s favor. This decision was in spite of affidavits from all of the original parties to the loan contract, stating the intent of the loan was not full recourse.
The claimants settled the underlying dispute for $1.6M and then pursued a claim against the insured for the settlement and $465K in related attorney fees. This matter ultimately resolved at mediation.
The total expense and indemnity for this case was approximately $800,000, covered by CNA.
Professional Liability Claim #3
In a Workers’ Compensation case, an attorney claimed to have failed to advise her client that he had the option of pursuing a tort claim against his employer as opposed to filing a petition under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The attorney’s file contained numerous notes indicating she advised the client he could sue the employer for personal injuries, but there was nothing in writing that confirms these conversations took place. The difference between a workers’ compensation and personal injury lawsuit in recovery is significant. The client could have successfully argued his attorney had a duty to put advice in writing so the client could make an informed decision.
In addition to the lack of written direction, the attorney did not present well during her deposition and emails were found where she referred to the client as an idiot.
Based on the case, it is likely a jury would find liability against the attorney. The matter was resolved for a reasonable amount at mediation. The total expense and indemnity was approximately $500,000, which CNA covered.
Professional Liability Claim #4
A Philadelphia County matter arose when the estate of a decedent approached a CNA insured to file a medical malpractice claim for wrongful death. The attorney accepted the case but failed to file it in a timely manner. The estate then retained one of the nation’s best plaintiff firms to prosecute the legal malpractice case against the attorney.
An extensive internal review by CNA resulted in the early identification of a tough case with substantial exposure. It allowed for substantial cost savings and the added benefit of having the attorney remain anonymous in Philadelphia County litigation.
The total expense and indemnity was approximately $2,000,000, which CNA covered.
At CNA, we understand that no matter how prepared you are for the unexpected, there’s always the possibility you may need to file a claim. Should you ever need to, our experienced Lawyers Professional Liability claim team is ready to handle your claim accurately and efficiently, so you can get back to doing what you do best.
One or more of the CNA companies provide the products and/or services described. The information is intended to present a general overview and is not intended to constitute a binding contract. Please remember that only the relevant insurance policy can provide the actual terms, coverages, amounts, conditions and exclusions for an insured. All products and services may not be available in all states and may be subject to change without notice. “CNA” is a registered trademark of CNA Financial Corporation. Certain CNA Financial Corporation subsidiaries use the “CNA” trademark in connection with insurance underwriting and claims activities.
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PS CLAIM SS 122117