Asset Protection for Doctors

According to the U.S. Department of mens clinic mcallen tx, approximately one-half of all medical malpractice lawsuits are filed against surgeons,

[1] even though surgeons represent 14.5% of all practicing physicians.

[2] Surgeons, particularly plastic surgeons, are perceived by plaintiffs’ attorneys as desirable litigation targets as they earn on a nationwide average double what general practitioners earn.

[3] Higher earnings lead to greater wealth, and plastic surgeons find themselves facing numerous malpractice lawsuits. The vast majority of these lawsuits are frivolous (a plaintiff succeeds in only 1 out of every 4 medical malpractice lawsuits),

[4] but given the sheer number of lawsuits filed surgeons are justifiably worried about lawsuits that may exceed their insurance coverage or that may not be covered by malpractice insurance.

Asset protection is a field of law that deals with structuring asset and business ownership to make it either impossible or at least very expensive for a plaintiff to reach the assets of a defendant. If a doctor’s personal assets are impossible or too difficult to collect against, a plaintiff’s attorney will either not file the lawsuit in the first place, or will be a lot more willing to settle on terms favorable to the doctor.

Asset protection does not deal with secrecy or hiding assets because an intelligent and determined creditor will always be able to unearth hidden assets. A properly structured asset protection plan would utilize commonly used structures such as trusts and limited liability companies in a manner that would legally, ethically and effectively shield a doctor’s assets from any lawsuit and any creditor. A doctor implementing an asset protection plan will be able to sleep soundly, knowing that whether he is hit with a malpractice claim or is involved in an automobile accident, his assets will be safe and unreachable.

Once the plaintiff obtains a legal judgment against the doctor in a malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff becomes a creditor of the doctor, and the doctor becomes a debtor. The plaintiff can now use the judgment to collect and attach almost any and every personal and business asset of the doctor. Consequently, the focus of all asset protection planning is to remove the debtor-doctor from legal ownership of his assets, while retaining the doctor’s control over and beneficial enjoyment of the assets.

There is no “magic bullet” asset protection strategy. Depending on the assets owned by the doctor, the aggressiveness of the plaintiff and certain other factors different structures will be used to protect a doctor’s assets. The timing of the planning is important as well. While it is always possible to engage in asset protection planning, even after a lawsuit has been filed, the planning will be a lot more effective and simpler when implemented before a malpractice claim arises.

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