Seeking Legal Assistance

Avoiding Malpractice: Tips for Social Workers to Manage Risk

Your Best First Step in Seeking Legal Assistance and Representation with
Licensing Board Complaints and Malpractice Lawsuits

Licensing board complaints and malpractice lawsuits can be stressful and financially devastating without the proper financial safety net, legal advice, and representation to support and guide you.

If you have received a licensing board complaint or a malpractice lawsuit, the very first thing you should do is contact your insurance carrier before taking any additional action. Turning to family or colleagues for assistance, referrals with legal situations, or seeking your own legal representation is not advised. In fact, the NASW-Endorsed Professional Liability policy covers legal defense expenses regarding all subpoenas and depositions that typically arise in these cases, but you need to call us first to discuss the case before you call a lawyer.

Why contact your carrier first? Here are several important reasons:

  1. Protect your livelihood and career. When it comes to social work malpractice, your livelihood and career, not all lawyers are created equally. Make sure you have experienced legal representation that the NASW-Endorsed program offers, specific to cases of social work malpractice. When you contact your NASW-Endorsed program insurance carrier, an attorney will be designated to represent you is that has the right experience, qualifications and a successful track record for representing social work malpractice cases.
  2. Reduce your stress in finding a qualified attorney to represent you. Licensing board complaints and lawsuits are stressful enough. With the NASW-Endorsed professional liability program, you are not alone. You can and should rely on our qualified claims administration and legal team to advise you AND to designate an experienced attorney to represent you if necessary.
  3. Avoid unnecessary financial risks and expenses. Legal fees can be costly. If you hire your own attorney without consulting first with your insurance carrier, it’s quite likely those legal expenses will not be reimbursed. Many professional liability policies provide that the insurance carrier has no duty to reimburse you for expenses that you incur without the written consent of the carrier. When you call your NASW-Endorsed program first, the expenses for your designated legal representation will be fully covered by your policy, and will not be deducted from the limits of your policy available to cover settlements or damages.
  4. Ensure that the information you share is privileged and cannot be used against you in court. When you contact your insurance carrier, the information you share and the advice you receive is confidential and privileged, which means it cannot be used by the opposing counsel against you in a court of law. Unfortunately, that is not the case when you share information with friends and colleagues in your search for advice and an attorney to represent you, so please keep this in mind.

The NASW-Endorsed professional liability policy covers costs for legal representation and litigation which are not deducted from your policy limits, providing you with the full limits of your policy to cover the cost of settlements and damages, if necessary. Additionally, the policy automatically includes a $35,000 limit in licensing defense coverage, as well as a subpoena benefit.

Your first call should always be to your insurance carrier before undertaking any additional action!

Do you have a question you would like to see addressed in the Tip of the Month, or wish we would address a previous Tip in more detail? We welcome your ideas! Please email suggestions to asi@naswasi.org (include “Tip Idea” in the email title). A new topic will be profiled each month.

Published November 2013

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