Before deciding to sue your California attorney for malpractice, you would do well to determine if (s)he carries malpractice insurance, also called professional liability insurance or errors and omissions insurance. Why? Because if (s)he does not, you could wind up with a jury award that you cannot collect. Few attorneys have the personal assets sufficient to personally pay a major judgment or award to someone who successfully sues them.
As explained by 12InsuranceAgency, most attorney malpractice insurance policies cover only the negligent errors and omissions committed by the attorney himself or herself and/or anyone else in the law firm, including non-attorney support personnel. They generally do not cover deliberate acts.
Types of errors and omissions
Typical errors and omissions policies cover the following types of situations:
- If your attorney misses a filing deadline
- If (s)he erroneously interprets a law and/or a statute
- If (s)he mistakenly commingles your funds with those of another client or with his or her law firm’s operating account
- If (s)he performs so incompetently at trial that you lose the case you likely would have won had it not been for his or her incompetence
These policies usually pay for not only any settlement you may reach with the attorney and his or her insurance company, but also for the following:
- Any jury award you may receive
- Any court-ordered judgment you may obtain
- Any pre-judgment interest to which you are entitled
While this information does not constitute legal advice, it can help you understand what types of damages an attorney’s legal malpractice insurance policy covers and why it is so important that you make sure (s)he has one before bringing suit against him or her.