Liability and the asset risks it creates are major concerns to physicians, dentists and other professionals.
Because the litigation environment has become more aggressive over time. Some reasons behind this include:
- Physicians, dentists and other professionals are often viewed as desirable litigation targets because of the perception of wealth possessed by these professionals.
- There is a deep-pocket theory that exists and litigants often use it to justify their efforts.
- The "blame-game" is ever present and plaintiffs are quick to attach a financial price to it against those who have the resources to pay.
- Because Plaintiff's attorneys work under contingency fees, plaintiffs have little to lose in litigation pursuit.
- The lottery-effect, which describes how publicized lawsuits affect plaintiffs and their perceptions of potential judgment awards.
- State cap limits on awards may have helped tort reform, but may have also affected the pursuit of additional claims to drive up claim value.
- The potential for claims not covered under insurance policies is always a risk.
- Over the last few decades, expanding theories of liability and the changing litigation environment have caused an increased need for Asset Protection Planning as a Risk Management Tool.
Most risk management education physicians and dentists receive is based in clinical risk. Why? Because the malpractice insurers insure that risk, and are motivated to help decrease it since they have to pay those claims. In fact, it is not your patients who sue you the most. It is non-malpractice litigants such as practice partners, ex-spouses, motor vehicle litigants, equity venture partners, and others, that often present the greatest threat. As a professional, your risk management plan should be comprehensive to deter any lawsuit under any circumstances.
The more comprehensive risk management planning that you do, the better insulated you are; your insurers will pay out less on claims and settle claims faster. This effect of good risk management planning is well-established.
Business owners have always been concerned over exposure to personal assets when claims arise against the business. Professionals have the same risks to personal assets. Risk Management using asset protection is a well-recognized area of practice using strategies that help preserve and protect wealth.
At Davis Schilken, PC, we provide a systematic planning approach to risk management using levels of protection, each building upon the other. Each professional and practice is different; so too are your risk management needs.
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