When a doctor with malpractice insurance gets sued, the first thing he or she should do is forward the lawsuit to their carrier. The first thing a carrier will do is determine if it owes coverage to the doctor.   Sometimes the insurance company determines the claim is not covered by the policy.  Sometimes the insurance company will cover the claim but reserve their right to withdraw from defending the doctor. In either event, personal counsel can advocate for the doctor’s best interests. If the insurance company determines that the reported claim is covered by the policy, the insurance company will appoint and pay for a lawyer to defend the insured doctor.  The insurance-appointed lawyer has obligations to both the doctor and to the doctor’s insurance company. The Florida Bar permits insurance appointed attorneys to represent both the carrier and the doctor but has placed rules on such representation to avoid potential conflicts of interest.   For example, the insurance-appointed lawyer must provide the doctor with a “Statement of Insured Client’s Rights” form.  This is a very important document that doctors often sign without reading.  Notably, the form contains a paragraph about hiring your own lawyer, also known as personal counsel. Personal counsel serves an important concurrent role in the doctor’s defense.  Personal counsel is a lawyer that is hand-selected by the doctor. Unlike the insurance-appointed lawyer, personal counsel’s obligation is to the doctor only. Personal counsel serves an oversight role, monitoring the defense provided by the insurance company and always with the doctor’s best interest in mind.  Personal counsel can analyze the facts and relevant law in order to assist in the evaluation of the doctor’s risk and personal exposure.  Personal counsel can provide a valuable second opinion on the merits of the case and the potential exposure. Personal counsel can make recommendations to the insurance-appointed counsel to help evaluate the case and move it towards a more favorable resolution.  Personal counsel can encourage the settlement of lawsuits where the value of the damages claimed are beyond the limits of the insurance policy. Personal counsel can be a great ally and advocate, however personal counsel is not required.  Personal counsel will cost the doctor money on top of what he or she already paid for in insurance coverage.  Many doctors do not want to pay.    As a result of the cost, many doctors choose to rely on the insurance appointed attorney without seeking the help of personal counsel, ignoring the potential conflict of interest.  This could lead to disastrous results, in which the doctor gets advice that is good for the carrier, but not necessarily good for the doctor. At Lubell Rosen, we believe that doctors deserve access to qualified and experienced personal counsel at an affordable cost. For a doctor who has already invested so much in his or her medical career, there is simply too much at stake to forego retaining qualified, experienced and affordable personal counsel.