Healthcare Underwriters Group of Florida (HUFL), a physician owned and governed medical professional liability insurance company, announced the receipt of a check that confirms an important victory in HUFL’s ongoing campaign to stop nuisance claims against Florida doctors. The original victory came on August 12th, 2005 when a Broward County Circuit judge ruled in favor of an HUFL insured doctor by dismissing a medical malpractice claim and ordering the plaintiff’s attorney to pay the defense attorney’s fees and costs.
“This first check from an attorney confirms our ability to effectively fight meritless cases,” said Steven Shapiro, M.D., Chairperson of the Board for HUFL. “When a patient is truly injured by a medical error, we want to pay a reasonable amount in a timely manner.
We have promised them that we will not settle claims without merit,” said HUFL’s Director of Claims, David McKenney. “This was clearly a case that fell into that category. I have heard people raise concerns over how prudent it is to fight meritless claims in Florida. In fact, I believe that, over time, it is too expensive not to fight. This case sends a clear message that our physicians have had enough! Attorneys that bring meritless cases against HUFL insureds can expect to face an uphill battle. They may even end up writing a check.”
As a young hospital administrator in New York, my large, self insured hospital worked with a malpractice defense firm that also fought every case. The theory was that by trying cases and tying up plaintiff attorneys in a courtroom, this discouraged frivilous suits. This said, it is very important that HUL and others get with the emerging trend to be open and admit mistakes and try to settle out promptly. Hiding and stonewalling when a patient may have been injured makes people angry, and that’s when they seek out a lawyer and sue. If you’ve ever been on the innocent side of an auto accident, and had to deal with someone else’s insurance company, you know the feeling.
That said: score one for the good guys.