If I am sued as a doctor, am I obliged to allow my malpractice insurer to dictate the terms of the settlement?

Asked 7 months ago - Austin, TX

I was recently sued by a former patient, and I wanted to know...does the insurance company have the right to basically take over the trial process? If I want an immediate settlement that is within my policy limits is the insurance company obliged to respect my decision, or can the insurer decide to go to court against my will?

Attorney answers (7)

  1. Daniel David Horowitz III

    Contributor Level 14

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . That's a very good question. It all depends on the policy. Many medical malpractice insurance policies have "consent" clauses which don't allow the insurance company to settle without your consent. You are asking about the opposite scenario. If you truly want to resolve the claim within your insurance proceeds and the carrier isn't agreeing, I recommend hiring personal counsel to protect you in the event a judgment is taken against you in excess of your insurance limits. Another way to make the insurance company resolve the case is to admit that you're responsible and your negligence caused the alleged harm.

  2. Daragh John Carter

    Contributor Level 14

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Notwithstanding your desire to see the claim settled, your insurer may view the claim as a defensible one that they'd rather take to trial then settle. Danirl Horowitz' suggestion that you retain personal counsel to review the policy and oversee settlement discussions is a good idea.

    Disclaimer: answers posted by attorney Daragh Carter to questions posted on AVVO are NOT privileged or... more
  3. Mark Allen Land

    Contributor Level 19

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . You have been given excellent advise on here.

    You should hire your own counsel and discuss this with them. They can advise you on the best course of action. The most important thing is to protect yourself in case the insurance company refuses to settle and the eventual judgment exceeds the policy limits.

    Good luck.

  4. Leroy Brenardo Scott

    Contributor Level 11

    Answered . Insurers do have a lot of leeway in handling claims. However, there is a caveat. Do a Google search for "Stowers Doctrine." That's the doctrine in Texas that protects insureds from the unbridled discretion of insurance companies.

    I hope this information answers your question. If you need more information, simply add a comment or call me. Good... more
  5. David Ian Schoen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . It depends on your policy, but usually the insurance company wants to settle but the doctor won't give his consent.

    In seeking an attorney on this site, beware of limiting your search to attorneys with a 10 rating, and carefully... more
  6. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Depends on your contract, but best bet is to retain local independent counsel to protect your interest and assets.......

  7. Richard Todd Rosenstein

    Contributor Level 19

    Answered . You should have an independent attorney review your insurance policy. The insurance company will settle for an unreasonable amount even if you instruct it to do so. The consent for settlement in a medical malpractice case is usually withheld by the physician. However, if you want to settle within your policy limits, you should instruct your insurance company and the lawyer that was hired to defend you, to settle the case within your policy limits. You may also want retain independent counsel to ensure that your are not exposed to any excess judgements outside the scope of your insurance policy.

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