What Happens If A Doctor's Malpractice Insurance Lapsed?
A significant portion of the cases a medical malpractice law firm takes on will be handled by an insurance company. Unsurprisingly, a large majority of doctors carry some form of medical malpractice insurance.
Something a bit weird can happen, though, when a doctor retires, changes their insurance carrier, or moves on to a different medical organization. There can be questions about whether the doctor was insured at the time an issue occured. Likewise, there may be questions if they moved to a new arrangement about whether their new insurance carrier or the old one covered them. Let's take a look at the implications this can have on filing a malpractice claim.
Determining When the Injuries Happened
A lot of what determines whether an insurance company might be on the hook in a case depends on figuring out when the alleged injuries occurred. Suppose a doctor was with Insurance Company X from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2019. If your injuries occurred in June of that year, it doesn't matter if you didn't file a claim until February 15, 2020, for example. The question in that scenario is, "Who was the insurance carrier for the doctor on the date the alleged malpractice was committed?"
In addition to nailing down when the injuries occurred, it's also important to know when the policy was in effect. For example, a doctor might move from private practice to a medical organization. Consequently, your medical malpractice lawyer may have to nail down the date when the doctor was on individual insurance versus when the doctor became covered by the organization's policy before deciding which company to pursue a claim with.
It's also common for doctors to have tail and nose coverage. This is a part of a plan that covers these gaps at the beginning and end of a policy.
What if the Doctor Is Uninsured?
This is the ugliest scenario, but a medical malpractice law firm can still deal with it. What happens in this scenario is the claim is either pursued against the doctor personally or against whatever business the doctor set their practice up as.
If the doctor chooses to settle the case or ends up on the losing end of a court judgment, the doctor's money and assets will have to be used to pay you. This ends up generally being a longer process than dealing with an insurance company, but you'll have the legal right to place liens on their property. Accounts will be liquidated and real property items will be sold until such time the debt is paid.