I just found out that I am being sued for negligence after an auto accident. My co-defendant is the car rental company, whose car I was driving. The car rental company's lawyer wrote to tell me that he has been hired to represent me as well; HOWEVER, I have to waive a potential conflict of interest. You see, the plaintiff is suing me for (inter alia) negligent driving and the rental company for (inter alia) giving me a defective car. My defense and the company's defense may be at odds. I assume that our interests are MOSTLY aligned: the plaintiff does not seem to be actually injured, and even if he has a low-value claim, the car rental company is covering the first $25,000 of any recovery. Should I waive the conflict and let the same lawyer represent me and the car rental company?
Demand that your carrier either assign you a separate attorney or that you be allowed to hire an attorney that the carrier will pay. These are your rights. Do not waive the conflict.
I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been handling criminal defense and personal injury cases for over 18 years. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails, is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.
You can obtain independent counsel and you should not waive the conflict.
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Thank you for an excellent question. The key element here is the claimed defect. What do you think, about that claim, was there a problem with the steering or brakes or something of that nature? Look at the police accident report and read it very carefully, especially regarding anything you might have said. The problem is, the lawyer has to claim that you were not negligent and that there was no defect. If there was no defect, then the rental company should blame you for bad driving, if there was, then you should blame them for renting you a defective car. On the other hand, if the plaintiff's lawyer gets the two defendants blaming each other, that makes it easier for their side. so a united front may be better. On the whole, I lean toward not waiving conflict and getting your own lawyer. Your insurance company should pay for it, make sure they are in on the loop.
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