Posted on: 4 July 2016
If you and your friend are hurt in an accident, and you were in the same vehicle, you may wish to be represented by the same lawyer. However, this is only possible if there would be no conflict of interest with the arrangement. For example, a conflict of interest would arise if:
One of You Contributed to the Accident
A single lawyer can't represent both of you if at least one of you contributed to the accident. This is because the lawyer would hurt the interests of you while looking out for the interests of your friend, and the converse would also be true.
Take an example where you are driving, and your friend is on the passenger seat. If you are accused of causing an accident and your friend gets hurt, you would need a lawyer to prove that wasn't the case. At the same time, your friend would need a lawyer to prove your liability for the accident so that you (through your insurer) can settle their damages. In such a case, your lawyer would harm your friend's case while fighting for you.
The same reasoning applies if your friend (the passenger) contributed or caused the accident. Your friend can contribute to the accident, for example, by providing you with alcohol and then allowing you to drive. Your friend may also be partially responsible for the crash if they own the car, but allowed you to drive knowing very well that you aren't a qualified driver.
The Recovery Funds Are Limited
Even if both of you aren't liable for each other's injuries, it would still be a conflict of interest for one lawyer to represent you if the source of recovery has limited funds. In such a situation, your lawyer has to do their best to get you the maximum settlement possible, and they have to do the same for your friend. This isn't possible if a single lawyer is representing you.
Take an example where your injuries have been valued at $100,000 and your friend's injuries at $150,000, but the liable party has a coverage limit of $100,000 only. In such a situation, the coverage can't satisfy both your recoveries, so you need separate lawyers to get you respective maximum settlements and recover the rest of the money from other sources. For example, you may even have to lodge private suits against the responsible individual. It would be difficult and unethical for a single lawyer to take on both cases, so each of you has to consult a separate car accident attorney.Share