In the world of losses and claims you think of this as the very reason to buy coverage in a law office. We all make mistakes. It is not new. But what is breaking news would be the rise of mistakes in volume and in the serious nature of the claims presented. One carrier noted that 79% of its reserves for losses in 2015 were as a result of mistakes. You might say that is an epidemic.
I visited the general subject of claims last issue and mentioned mistakes. (http://goo.gl/MdIxHb). I recently attended a carrier’s training session on the subject and was struck by how the modern practice of law had dramatically increased a lawyer’s exposure, with the old-fashioned mistake now being a leading cause of claims. In that carrier’s study, the last five years proved that they were the biggest losses.
I gave a talk last year on change in the law practice and pointed out that lawyers had to adapt or be left behind. Easy examples were the death of photo film, Radio Shack and malls. That same rapid change has probably led to the rise in mistakes in a law practice. Think about today’s pace in the practice of really being reachable all day and every day, no matter where you are. Cost issues imposed by clients may reduce second eyes’ review or intra-office discussion or more research. A rapid fire response back to a client while you are catching a plane may well lead to a mistake, and the consequences can be great.
So, perhaps some discipline for busy lawyers may be in order. Slow down and perhaps respond to the client: “I’ll get back to you soon after I have time to consider your inquiry.” Perhaps eat the internal cost of research or a second review to be sure of the answer. Do the old-fashioned proofreading. Utilize what pilots are required to do — checklist items to see that all was done. If nothing else, do yourself a favor and do not work up against a deadline. Your dog will kick the bucket, or the electronic filing system will not work. Just do it all the day before and take away one more possible mistake. Watch out for technology. Sometimes it is not your friend. Of all the areas for claims, mistakes should be a preventable one.
By the way, I was rushing to attend the carrier’s loss prevention presentation on mistakes. While I thought I was sending something to my secretary to make envelopes for twelve friends, I sent it to all twelve of them instead. Harmless here, but a lesson for me. To avoid mistakes, learn from your own mistakes as well.