Your lawyer sounds very intelligent. Trust him/her. That's what you hired an attorney for. Good luck!
If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. DISCLAIMER: This information is for general information purposes only. Nothing stated above should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Scott W. Edwards Attorney at Law Schauermann Thayer Jacobs & Staples 1700 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Vancouver, WA 98661 PHONE: (360) 695-4244 FAX: (360) 696-0583 E-MAIL: ScottE@stjs.com
Yes, it is entirely possible that the owner's insurance company will protect the owner and try to settle the case. There are some situtions where a plaintiff will want to sue both the driver and the owner, the latter possibly on negligent entrustment theory. In most instances, it probably suffices to just sue the driver. Even if only the driver is named as the defendant, the owner's policy may cover the negeligence of the driver. It sounds like that is the situation here. If that is the case, your lawyer made the correct decision. Good luck.
This response is for information purpose only and does not constitute a legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship.
You might have a negligent entrustment claim against the owner. But the insurance coverage does not necessarily indicate a viable claim. If your lawyer was wrong it is easy to fix with an amended complaint. But, the owner may have no assets and moreover the recovery might not exceed what insurance can offer. And, I would hope your lawyer explored the viability of the claim against the owner before advising you. If you don't trust your lawyer, that is a bigger problem than who you should sue. If you don't trust your lawyer, find one you do. It won't work if you don't.
Get a second opinion.
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Based on what you have said, it seems that your lawyer is correct. I suggest you have a face-to-face meeting with your attorney to review the circumstances of your accident and the allegations that have been made in your lawsuit. The owners insurance Company is covering the unlicensed driver because they apparently concede that the driver was operating with the explicit or implied consent of the owner and, therefore, is covered under the terms of the policy purchased by the owner. Speak with your attorney.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.
Usually the negligent driver, not the owner, is liable for the resulting damages and injuries. The only issue for the insurance company and coverage is whether the operator was a permissive driver (with the owners consent). If so, there is coverage. Some states have a cause of action for negligent entrustment of a vehicleby an owner to a person who is incompetent to drive or habitually reckless. Assuming the driver had no license, he is deemed incompetent to drive in some states and the reason for his loss of license may have been "habitually reckless behavior" i.e. speeding tickets, dwi, etc... Check your home state.
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