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Should I hire a personal injury defense attorney?

New York, NY |

Almost two years ago I hit a pedestrian who sued me last summer after refusing a settlement offered by the insurance company. The insurance attorney has called me only once since then and the only updates I've been getting is when I called them myself. Last week I received a letter from the insurance attorney telling me that I'd soon have to testify in court. That's after they told me multiple times that the case would be settled out of court. Is it time to hire my own attorney?

Attorney Answers 10

  1. Best answer

    What are the claimed injuries and what are your policy limits? Also curious which insurance company you have? Two likely scenarious. One- that the injuries are soft tissue and likely do not meet the "serious injury" threshold in which case ( depending on the size of your policy) i would say don't worry about it or Two- you have a crap insurance company-- like Allstate-- who will employ the three D's ( all while you are not sleeping at night with worry) DENY, DELAY and DEFEND. if the latter and you have serious injuries with assets exposed, you should consider hiring an attorney to put some pressure on your insurance company.

    My firm is a second generation family firm successfully handling personal injury and medical malpractice cases for over 35 years. "Let Our Family Help Your Family" 516 466-7900

  2. You are entitled to have the carrier defend you. People often get their own attorney if there is a chance that the plaintiff's damages are worth more than the defendant's insurance company. In this type of situation the private lawyer raises bad faith claims to pressure the insurance carrier to settle the case within the limits of the insurance coverage so the defendant's personal assets are not put at risk. I have done this on several occassions if you would like to discuss it.

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been doing criminal defense work for over 16 years. I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012 and 2013. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell has given me its highest rating - AV Preeminent - in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Litigation. According to Martindale-Hubbell”AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence." Fewer than 8% of attorneys achieve an AV Preeminent rating. I also have the highest ranking – “superb” – on Avvo. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.

  3. It is not a bad idea to have independent counsel in your state as well.

  4. If you are being sued for an amount greater than your coverage, then consult with a personal defense attorney.

    If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or

  5. You can, but unless you are in jeopardy of exceeding the policy limits, it may not be necessary. On the other hand, it probably wouldnt hurt to be extra protected.

    The above is general information only and is not legal advice. The information provided does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should not be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney until we sign a retainer agreement.

  6. You can hire your own attorney if you have any doubts that your interests are not being properly represented. Just remember, you are paying for two attorneys, one through your carrier, the other through your pocketbook. It wouldn't be a bad idea to ask your insurance company lawyer what they have offered. If you are in jeopardy of having to pay out more than you are insured for, it is your insurance companies attorney who has a duty to inform you of that. If you want the assurance that you are being adequately represented hire a plaintiff's personal injury attorney in your area.

  7. Yes now would be a great time to retain your own counsel to protect your rights. All the insurance company and the lawyers they appoint care about is the insurance res. We can oversee the case for you to protect YOUR personal interests. If you'd like to discuss that we can be reached at 1-877-996-6849.

  8. No - why would you want to pay for another attorney out of your own pocket? You have not described anything unusual about the course of a motor vehicle case. Call the attorney who is defending you and have him or her answer your questions. If you get no response, ask to speak to the firm's managing attorney.

  9. What you have described is not abnormal, and very few defendants in bodily injury cases hire private counsel. As stated, the concern is whether your exposure exceeds your policy. A main purpose of insurance premiums is to pay legal fees. As said, you should push your defense counsel for information and tell them you want a written status. Make sure you know the amount of coverage you have and the claimed injuries, and what your defense attorney thinks those injuries are worth at trial. It is standard for the defense firm to report at least quarterly to the insurance company. If you still have concerns contact an attorney with insurance defense experience to discuss.

    All comments and/or opinions are for general information, and do not create an attorney-client relationship. In order to obtain a comprehensive and accurate legal opinion you should consult an attorney with the specific and detailed facts or your case/question.

  10. The attorney hired by your liability insurance company owes his duty to you as his client to keep you informed about your case and to guide you through the litigation. I would continue to call for updates and I would write a letter requesting the attorney update you with his status reports that he writes to the insurer who is paying his fee. You would need to hire your own attorney to look into the matter if you are uncomfortable with the attorney's responses or lack thereof, or if the attorney advises you that the potential settlement exceeds your liability insurance limits.

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