How Pre-Paid Legal Defense Works
Lubell Rosen pioneered pre-paid legal defense for doctors. In 2004 we developed the concept to defend doctors in Florida that were being harassed by frivolous suits from plaintiff lawyers. It’s no secret that defending a medical malpractice case can be very expensive. If a doctor decides to Go Bare they must pay for their own defense costs. Plaintiff lawyers would pick on those doctors that didn’t carry insurance by filing frivolous medical malpractice suits designed to get the doctor to pay the plaintiff’s settlement demands just to avoid paying defense attorney’s fees.
So we developed a flat fee program designed for the Bare doctor. Today, 16 years later, the program remains nearly identical. Over 3000 doctors have enrolled in the program and our success rate is unmatched by any defense firm or insurance carrier. Less than ½ of 1% of our clients go to trial. And of those that do go to trial, our winning percentage is over 90%. The program has given our clients piece of mind at a fraction of the cost of insurance.
The concept is simple. Doctors pay an annual fee for our services. The plan includes complete representation on all medical malpractice cases. Some restrictions apply but for the most part, everything that is unfair about insurance contracts, our contracts contain the opposite language. Annual price increases are limited to a maximum of 5%. Clients with multiple prior claims are not charged more. Clients get the final decision over settlement. Click Here to see a sample contract. [Link to a sample contract]
Why the insurance model is flawed:
Pre-Paid Legal Defense was invited because the insurance model was flawed. In many ways, pre-paid legal defense is a return to normalcy, when a client hired their own attorney.
There are three basic flaws of the insurance defense model. One, It financially motivates malpractice attorneys to lengthen the litigation; Two, it forces malpractice attorneys to increase billable hours to overcome low hourly rates; and Three, it forces the lawyer to divide their loyalty between the doctor and the insurance carrier. Pre-Paid Legal Defense cures all these flaws.
- Most medical malpractice lawyers charge hourly. We do not. We believe this is basic flaw of the insurance defense model. When an insurance company appoints an attorney off their panel to defend a doctor, the attorney gets paid by the hour. From a financial standpoint, that attorney is therefore incentivized to prolong the case to maximize their fees. To be fair, many attorneys would be offended at such a suggestion and despite what some people think, we believe most attorneys are ethical. Bur regardless of whether attorneys would allow financial motivations to affect their representation, perception is often reality. From the start, a doctor often questions their appointed attorney’s motives.
- Another problem with the insurance model is how the lawyers are selected. Insurance companies usually have a panel of attorneys available to defend doctors in a particular jurisdiction. They pre-negotiate favorable defense rates with the attorney, usually between $175-$250 per hour. These rates are less than ½ than what these same attorneys charge most clients or what they seek on other matters. As a result, the only way the matter can be profitable for the attorney is to put in a large volume of billable hours. Again, the insurance company is sending the wrong financial motivation to the attorney.
- And finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is an inherent conflict of interest with the insurance defense model. Ask any medical malpractice attorney who their client is and they will tell you it’s the doctor they represent. But is it? Most people are loyal to the person that pays them. Why would attorneys be any different? And yet with insurance, the carrier pays the attorney to represent the doctor and the attorney is asked to be loyal to the doctor and not the insurance carrier. How is this even legal? The ethical rules in every state do not permit lawyers from taking cases where there is a conflict of interest, yet all of these rules carve out an exception for insurance defense representation. When insurance was invented, over a century ago, they made sure that this inherent conflict was avoided by carving out this exception and it continues to this day. It continues because without it, lawyers couldn’t take cases from insurance carriers and the entire industry would collapse. So it’s a “legal fiction” that we must endure and attorneys must look the other way when their carrier behaves badly. Isn’t ironic that doctors, who are taught in medical school to question everything, rarely question the loyalty or integrity of the attorney that is hired by their insurance carrier.
Pre-Paid Legal Defense cures all of these flaws. In our model, we charge our clients a flat annual fee, regardless of the complexity of the case, regardless of the number of cases filed against the doctor, and regardless of how long the case takes to reach conclusion. We have no incentive to lengthen the litigation. We have no incentive to churn the billable hours. In fact, it’s the opposite. Our goal is to shorten the litigation. We’ve yet to meet the doctor who didn’t want their case to be over as fast as possible. Thus, in our model, our financial interests and the doctors’ interests are aligned. In other words, we are in the same boat.
Additionally, in our model we have direct accountability to the doctor. If a doctor is dissatisfied with us, we get fired. Obviously, we don’t that to happen. So our firm does everything possible to keep our client’s happy. Our loyalty never divided. We only have one client – the doctor we represent. To keep our client’s business year after year, to continue to receive accolades and referrals, we must prove ourselves every single day, one case at a time.
In every other business the customer hires the vendor directly. Why should the practice of law be any different? As attorneys we should be held accountable to our clients. Insurance changed the model years ago. It’s time we go back to the basics.
[Insert row boat picture from our brochure]
Unlike the insurance model, with pre-paid legal defense, we are in the same boat with you.