Can One Lawyer Represent Several Victims of the Same Accident?
Yes, sometimes a lawyer can represent more than one person with injuries arising from the same accident, particularly when there is no conflict in doing so. For example, say you are a passenger in a car driven by someone who collided with another vehicle. Let’s assume that only the other driver was at fault for the accident. In this case, it would be suitable for us to act on behalf of both you and your driver, or for several passengers injured in the same vehicle.
On the other hand, if both your driver and the other driver share fault for the collision and both you and your driver are injured, we as your lawyer should not represent both you and your driver.
There can be several significant advantages to two or more persons injured in the same accident retaining the same lawyer. An obvious advantage is reduced cost. If the expenses associated with an investigation and the hiring of liability experts are divided among a number of individuals, the cost for each person is going to be less. Another not-so-obvious advantage is the ease and speed with which each case can move through the judicial system. All claims can be started at the same time; important events like examinations for discovery, settlement conferences, mediations and pre-trial conferences can be scheduled much more quickly; and if any of the cases fall into that small minority of cases that proceed to trial, the trials can be scheduled much faster and be concluded sooner.
Another instance where the same lawyer should not represent more than one individual is where the combined claims of several injured individuals exceeds the limits of an insurance policy available, placing the injured individuals at risk of not being compensated fully for their injuries and losses. In these cases, when each individual stands to receive less than 100 cents on the dollar for their losses, a lawyer should only represent one injured individual. One exception to this is when the injured individuals are family members who, understanding there is limited insurance such that each family member may not be fully compensated for his or her losses, nonetheless agree to hire the same lawyer.
How can injured individuals know whether a proposed defendant has available sufficient policy limits to respond to the value of their claim? In Ontario, any defendant has to disclose details of all insurance policies that respond to the claims of the injured individuals, indicating the monetary limits available under those policy/policies of insurance.
In summary, there may be powerful benefits to retaining a lawyer that is representing other individuals hurt in the same incident, and we can help you decide if doing so makes sense in your situation
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