Keeping your fingers crossed, with perhaps a little truculence thrown in for good measure, should not guide an insured’s answers in filling out an insurance application. Rather, as the decision in a recent case from federal district court in Florida shows, insureds filling out renewal applications should view the world through a pessimistic eye. Continue Reading Forget the rose-colored glasses when filling out insurance applications
In a traditional attorney-client relationship, the attorney acts as the client’s zealous advocate, protects the client’s confidences, and at all times acts in the client’s best interests. But what duty, if any, is owed to an insurer by defense counsel appointed by the insurer? Does the payment of defense costs and the attorney’s reporting requirement to the insurer create any duty owed by the attorney to the insurer? The answers to these questions have implications not only for defense counsel, the insured, and the insurer, but also for the injured party and its counsel. In a recent decision, the Washington Court of Appeals reiterated that defense counsel owes a duty of care only to the client (the insured) and not the insurer.
In The Doctors Co. v. Bennett, Bigelow & Leedom, P.S. (Wash. Ct. App. May 26, 2015), the insureds, two physicians and their employer, were sued for medical malpractice after a baby delivered by the physicians suffered severe disability due to oxygen deficiency during delivery. The insurer then undertook the defense of the physicians and the employer without a reservation of rights and retained defense counsel. Following some alleged legal missteps, the insurer settled with plaintiffs for over $7 million in excess of the insureds’ policy limits and then brought suit for legal malpractice against defense counsel. Continue Reading In Washington, appointed defense counsel owes a duty of care only to its client, the insured, and not to the insurer paying the bills