If you’ve been hurt in a wreck, you should hire a seasoned Marietta car accident lawyer to help you get the full compensation that you deserve. The same is true for any passengers who were in your car at the time of the crash. It’s not usual for car accident victims to ask if we can help them and the people who were riding with them.
Here, we’ll discuss whether it’s a good idea, or even legal, for you and your passengers to hire the same auto accident attorney.
What Do Georgia Court Rules Say About Dual Representation?
The Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct §1.7 states that an attorney cannot represent two plaintiffs who were involved in the same accident or incident if it will cause a potential conflict of interest.
Now, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t theoretically possible for you and a family member to use the same accident attorney. What it means is that there are very specific rules your lawyer must follow if this is to be the case.
Your Marietta Car Accident Lawyer Must Ensure There’s No Conflict of Interest
Under Georgia law, accident attorneys cannot represent two people involved in the same cause of action if they aren’t able to represent both parties adequately. The only way they can do this is if they are confident that there is no chance for a conflict of interest.
Attorneys are required to dedicate their full time and efforts to every client. This is difficult to do if they are representing two people who were injured in the same car accident.
This is why the courts are so strict about making sure both clients are aware that there are risks involved with hiring the same car accident lawyer.
What Exactly Is a Conflict of Interest?
A conflict of interest is just what you would think it is. Imagine that you were driving your SUV and your friend was in the passenger seat. A car drives into oncoming traffic and hits your vehicle head-on.
Both you and your friend sustain life-threatening injuries. At first, you assume that both of you can demand damages from the other driver’s insurance company. However, the defendant’s insurance policy only covers $50,000. Between you and your friend, your damages far exceed $100,000.
If you had your own car wreck lawyer, they would fight to get you as much of that $100,000 as possible. However, if they also represent your friend, they won’t be able to do that.
What Conflict of Interest Could Exist Between You and Your Passengers?
There are numerous conflicts of interest that could arise if your Marietta auto accident lawyer represents both you and your passenger. For example, imagine that you’re driving with your friend in the car, and somebody rear-ends you.
You both plan on filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. However, the police report shows that your brake lights were out at the time of the crash. This means there’s a good chance you’ll be found partially at fault for the crash.
In this scenario, there will be an obvious conflict of interest. Your passenger would have to either pursue both you and the other driver or forego compensation.
Your lawyer cannot let either of these things happen. In this situation, it would be best for the two of you to retain separate car accident attorneys.
Your Accident Attorney Must Explain the Risks and Advantages to Both Clients
If you and your passenger decide to hire the same auto accident lawyer, certain things must happen.
First, your lawyer must clearly explain the risks and advantages of hiring the same attorney. They must also have both you and your passenger sign an informed consent form.
This form states that you both understand the risks involved in retaining the same accident attorney and have chosen to do so anyway.
What Are the Risks of a Lawyer Representing You and Your Passengers?
As you can see, there are some obvious risks involved with hiring the same car accident lawyer. Of course, there are also a few benefits to doing so. You have to consider both of these things before you make a final decision about legal representation.
What these risks and benefits are will depend on the facts surrounding your case. Some of the factors that will impact the risks and advantages include the following:
- If you were partially at fault, it will impact both your compensation as well as that of your passenger.
- The defendant’s insurance policy will have limits that may not cover full damages for both of you.
- One of you may choose to settle while the other insists on going to trial.
- The two of you probably suffered different types of injuries and will require different levels of medical treatment.
- The two of you will certainly demand different types of damages. For example, you would likely demand compensation for damage to your vehicle. Your passenger will not be able to do this.
You and Your Passengers Must Sign an Informed Consent Form
As stated briefly here, you and your passenger will have to sign an informed consent form before your car wreck lawyer agrees to represent you. This form will clearly spell out the risks and advantages of using the same attorney.
The form will also indicate that both of you waive any right to complain about a potential conflict of interest going forward. Oftentimes, an informed consent form will also state that either, or both plaintiffs have the right to change lawyers at any point if they feel they aren’t being represented properly.
Call Our Marietta Car Accident Lawyers Today for the Help You Need!
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Marietta, Smyrna, or Atlanta, you should hire an experienced Georgia accident attorney. The same is true for the passengers who were in your car at the time of the crash. Unfortunately, it’s not always a good idea to have the same car accident lawyer represent both of you.
We can review your case for free. Call our firm at (770) HELP-NOW or contact us online anytime 24/7! Let us help you win the compensation you deserve.