In today’s litigious environment, physicians consistently struggle with rising malpractice premiums. For those inclined to stop reading here, this article will not attempt to rehash the contentious debate over why malpractice premiums continue to rise. Rather, we want to discuss a fairly new and rapidly growing problem for physicians: personal liability for excess verdicts.

Longstanding common law holds that a tortfeasor is personally liable for any excess judgment not paid by insurance or a related statutory fund. In most instances, professionals are mandated to carry malpractice insurance. For this reason and for reasons of personal mental well-being, professionals in virtually every field, both medical and non-medical, purchase malpractice insurance to avoid just such personal liability. But what happens when the professional fails to purchase sufficient coverage? Or even worse, what happens when the insurer becomes insolvent?

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