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My young adult daughter is being summoned for a accident with a pedestrian. Should she have her own legal representation?

Rochester, NY |

My daughter was involved in a accident with a pedestrian and she is the driver. The pedestrian ran out between two parked cars in front of her. A number of witnesses gave statements that she had no warning and no time to avert the accident. The pedestrian was hurt and has hired a personal injury lawyer. According to the investigation of the insurance company and statements from the witnesses, she is not at fault. The insurance company will have representation, but should she have her own legal representation? Thank you for your advice.

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Attorney answers 9


Unless the claim is in excess of your policy limits, having your insurance company handle the matter is likely ok. You could, however, seek the review and consultation of a local lawyer. You should talk with the lawyer appointed by the insurance company about your concerns. They are under an obligation to protect your rights and the rights of your daughter.


I agree with Attorney Coluccio. Please speak with the insurance company attorney and if possible, arrange an in person meeting with that attorney for you and your daughter to come in and go over the case in detail. Be sure that you have disclosed any excess or umbrella insurance coverage that you may have in place.

You should make sure that the attorney and the insurance adjuster keep you informed of any settlement negotiations.

Good Luck

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Local independent counsel is always prudent to protect your interests and assets.


You should consider hiring a personal attorney to look out for your daughter's best interests if (1) you have limited (or minimal) liability insurance coverage; (2) the pedestrian has significant injuries; and (3) your daughter has assets and there are concerns about a potential judgment exceeding the limits of her liability coverage. Be aware that in NY, both the owner and the operator of the vehicle are responsible for injuries caused by the negligence of the operator. Thus, if you or someone else owns the vehicle, that person could also be liable and it may be wise for them to also consider hiring an attorney.

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Compare the demanded amount in the complaint to the insurance coverage. If it is greater, hire an attorney. I have been in that role several times and it has always insured that the company settles within limits. Your concern is not fault, it is coverage if there is fault found, no matter how unlikely it seems. Look for an experience PI attorney, either plaintiff or defense oriented, for the task.

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Notify the insurance carrier of the accident and place them on notice. The pedestrian may hire an attorney who will try to negotiate with the carrier.

If she is sued for the accident, both your daughter and whoever the owner of the vehicle is going to be named as defendants. When that happens forward the complaint to your carrier and they will assign counsel. If you really want to have a second set of eyes, retain personal counsel to monitor your daughter's case if it goes that far and a lawsuit is commenced.

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I largely agree with Mr. Gennarelli. One note, though, about your question: you embrace a familiar misconception. The carrier retained attorney does not represent the carrier; the lawyer will be representing your daughter and has an ethical obligation to act in her best interest, not the carrier's. Unfortunately, this is often forgotten by plaintiff's counsel and defense counsel, alike. Technically, an insured can direct a carrier to pay damages. This, of course, never happens, as the carrier rarely takes instructions from its insured.

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This is dependent on the severity of the plaintiff's injuries, the liklihood of the plaintiff succeeding on the liability issue and the amount of her insurance coverage. If there is a potential for a verdict against your daughter in excess of her coverage, she should speak to her own lawyer to fully protect herself. Her personal lawyer can also advise her about the need to and method of putting her own insurance carrier on notice of a possible "bad faith" claim by your daughter in the event the carrier does not properly negotiate and pay a valid claim by the pedestrian.