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Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro
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Virginia State Bar Does Not Demand Lawyers Have Malpractice Insurance

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Your Virginia (VA) injury lawyer does not have to have liability insurance to cover you if he makes professional errors on your case. I know this sad fact from an article in Virginia Lawyers Weekly reporting on a decision not to make lawyer malpractice insurance mandatory here in Virginia. As an attorney focusing my practice on helping people hurt in car crashes and train wrecks for 20 years, I would not dream of practicing without liability insurance to cover my clients should anything go wrong in my representation. The article went on to explain that the lawyers in most states including North Carolina and West Virginia also do not make lawyers have this protection for themselves and the people they represent.

Evidently, about 8 percent of Virginia lawyers do not have any insurance coverage for professional errors they may make. It would be my guess that any lawyer foolish enough not to carry professional liability insurance may be exactly the kind of lawyer who is prone to having claims made against them for messing up a client’s case.

In my area of law involving accidents and wrongful death cases, there are many ways of harming a client’s case if you are not paying enough attention or do not know what you are doing. For example, the clearest error that can be made by a plaintiff side injury lawyer is to miss the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time within which a claim must be brought to court or all rights are forever lost. Normally, there is a two-year period in Virginia to file suit for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. Unfortunately, lawyers can and do miss the statute of limitations and have their clients’ cases thrown out for failing to avoid missing this fairly simple deadline.

The other type of common error by people who dabble in handling personal injury cases is to not know all of the sometimes complex insurance and other legal issues that effect what a person is entitled to when their vehicle has been hit by another car in Virginia. A lawyer who is not an expert in personal injury may not realize all of the sources of insurance coverage available or may otherwise cause a person hurt in an accident to get less than they should have.

If I was a client whose family member, whether son, daughter, wife, husband or parent, was hurt in a car accident, I would expect that the lawyer I hire to represent my loved one not only will pay attention and knows what they are doing, but has insurance to back them up for any mistake that might be made by them or their staff. Over the years, my law partners and I have been contacted numerous times by people whose cases were messed up by some prior lawyer and we find out that the old lawyer failed to provide this kind of insurance protection for their clients. As a consumer when you are trying to figure out who to hire for your personal injury case, it is probably a good idea to ask whether the lawyer has legal malpractice insurance coverage and in what amount. A clear quick answer indicating the lawyer has millions of dollars of liability insurance coverage will demonstrate that this is a lawyer and law firm who is used to handling significant personal injury cases with serious injuries like yours.