Doctor Sues Insurance Carrier After They Failed to Respond to MedMal Lawsuit
Here’s a brief refresher course on how insurance works. Doctors purchase medical malpractice insurance policies. These policies indemnify (or take on liability) for the doctor and can pay out toward a subsequent judgment against the doctor. When a doctor is sued by a patient, the claim goes to the insurance carrier. The insurance carrier is expected to provide counsel to defend the doctor in court or settle the lawsuit. In this case, the insurance carrier did neither and now the doctor, who ended up with a $1.7 million judgment against him, is suing his insurance company for operating in bad faith. In this article, we’ll discuss what happened.
According to the plaintiff, who is now the doctor, he forwarded the claim to his insurance carrier who simply never bothered to respond. Instead of a defense, the plaintiff received a $1.7 million judgment against him which the doctor noted appears on the surface to be indicative of a gross negligence judgment. The doctor has further claimed that this will damage his reputation and is seeking damages in the amount of the judgment plus reputational damage.
What Happens When a Doctor Gets Sued?
As soon as a doctor receives receipt of a summons indicating a lawsuit, they are expected to contact their insurance carrier. The insurance company holds all the financial risk in this equation, so they generally choose the attorney if they don’t have one on staff. Additionally, insurance companies reserve the right to settle the case independently of their policyholder. This means that they can take on liability for a claim even when the doctor insists that they did nothing wrong.
Bad Faith Lawsuits
Insurance companies can be subject to bad faith lawsuits. In this case, the doctor-plaintiff is claiming that the insurance company either negligently or intentionally failed to respond to his claim of a patient initiating a lawsuit. As a result of that failure, a $1.7 million judgment was entered against him that he insists will damage his reputation as a doctor.
While this lawsuit took place in Georgia, Florida has its own standard for proving bad faith in a lawsuit. Each state has its own set of standards for determining bad faith. In Florida, the court will employ the “totality of circumstances” standard. This standard requires the court to consider “all” of the relevant circumstances in a lawsuit. As an example, probable cause uses a totality of circumstances standard to determine whether a police officer had probable cause to initiate a search or arrest.
In this case, much will depend on who received the notification from the doctor and how that request was processed.
Talk to a St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
Masterson, Hoag & Smith represent plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits. If you’ve been injured by a medical doctor, call our St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorneys today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.