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You Cover Client Care … We Cover You

Avoiding Malpractice: Tips for Social Workers to Manage Risk

You Cover Client Care … We Cover You

The purpose of insurance is to manage risk. Insurance enables the insurance policyholder to transfer certain risks, or defined causes of loss called “perils”, that are listed as being covered in the insurance policy contract issued by the insurance company. Insurance is a method of spreading the risk of loss from one policyholder to many policyholders. This risk transfer is accomplished through the collection of premium and pooling the premiums paid in order to pay future claims losses.

Liability insurance, such as professional liability, general liability, and cyber liability are third-party coverages. They cover actions and/or inactions of the insured. Often, a lawsuit is filed with the court that names the practitioner or organization as the defendant when the lawsuit seeks damages and other claims. Several legal defenses can be advanced to avoid liability, and they can be common law defenses or statutory law defenses. Common law is the unwritten body of law developed over the years from judicial case decisions based on custom or precedent. Statutory law is the written body of law, which varies among states. Statutory law is developed through legislation to serve the needs of the public. When the lawsuit is filed against the insured, you, and/or your practice, the insurance company that is contractually obligated to indemnify and defend you and/or your practice begins the legal defense. The insurance company hires an attorney to defend the insured and will argue one or more legal defenses.

Insurance defense is a legal representation that focuses on insurance claims lawsuits, and the defense attorneys may be employed by law firms hired by the insurance companies, and/or defense attorneys may also work for the insurance company itself. Insurance liability defense is a broad area that spans from auto to home to marine to healthcare. The insurance industry is heavily regulated and is impacted by common law and statutory law, particularly within the state venue of the lawsuit. There is a broad spectrum of legal issues arising from insurance, including the state statutes. This requires insurance attorneys to maintain expertise and keep abreast of the law, particularly in their respective state venues.

The presence of a skilled, specialized, and experienced legal team will result in more favorable settlement terms.

Occasionally, insureds ask if they can hire their own family attorney when a lawsuit is filed against them regarding their practice. Even if your insurance carrier permits you to hire your own family attorney, you will most probably be better represented by an attorney connected to your insurance carrier. Because the insurance risk is shifted to the insurance companies, they use very experiencedly and specialized insurance defense attorneys with proven track records and expertise in the insurance perils frequently presented in lawsuits within their state venue.

The NASW Risk Retention Group outsources its claims adjudication functions and legal defense functions to Western Litigation, Inc. which has a network of over 350 highly experienced attorneys across the nation. All of these attorneys are insurance lawyers with expertise in healthcare law and related legal defense in their respective states. They know the statutory law and the common law, particularly regarding the healthcare industry. Because of their demonstrated success in their respective specialties, their front-line litigation experience is invaluable. For example, at Western Litigation, all of its network panel attorneys are recognized experts defending social workers, psychologists, and other behavioral health practitioners in their respective states. NASW Risk Retention Group policyholders have frequently voiced their satisfaction with the prompt and expert legal defense provided, and the rapid resolution of lawsuits which brings peace of mind to the policyholders.

You may occasionally be involved in alternatives to lawsuit litigation that an insurance attorney will resolve for you. For example, Mediation is when the parties work with a third party to negotiate a resolution of their dispute in an informal, voluntary process. An Arbitration may be a binding or non-binding process and is more formal than mediation. The arbitration process may dictate the result or simply work with the parties to reach a resolution.

Without the insurance company defending you, you can reasonably expect to pay up to $450 per hour for an attorney who you hire. Moreover, there is no guarantee that this attorney has the requisite practice experience to defend you effectively. Pursuant to the insurance policy contract, inasmuch as the insurance company has assumed your risk transfer liability, the insurance carrier has the right to select the defense attorney. This is precisely why the best attorneys are selected by Western Litigation, Inc. for your legal defense.

The Risk Retention Group’s strong network of Western Litigation attorney’s cover your legal defense needs while you cover your clients’ needs. They directly enhance your legal defense and overall peace of mind.

Published May 2019

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