This situation happens in Baton Rouge all the time. Two or more people, say you and a family member or friend, are driving around town, and are injured in a car accident. You have medical bills, lost wages, and want to be compensated for your pain and suffering. You know you need a personal injury lawyer to help you with your case, but you’re wondering, can you both use the same lawyer? The answer depends on who was at fault for the accident, and whether or not there are enough funds available to pay for all parties’ injuries.
Let me explain a bit further.
Let’s say you were a passenger in a car accident. Clearly, you’re not at fault at all – you weren’t in control of any of the vehicles involved. But, your family member or friend who was driving was in control of his or her vehicle. And because Louisiana is a comparative negligence state, the car insurance companies may try to say your driver was partially at fault for the accident – even if the other driver was mainly at fault.
This could be the case if your family member or friend who was driving was going slightly over the speed limit, didn’t use a turn signal, was texting while driving, etc. If you were a passenger in a car with a driver who is partially at fault for the accident, even only 10 or 20%, you may be able to recover that portion of your damages from your driver’s car insurance company. Clearly, as a Baton Rouge personal injury attorney, I can’t help a passenger sue a driver that I also represent. In this case, the driver and the passenger would need to get different attorneys.
In the state of Louisiana, motorists are required to carry a minimum $15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person, with at least $30,000 per accident. That seems like a lot of money, until you factor in just how much medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering can be in a serious car accident.
First, it’s important to know that for the most part, case law has determined what each type of injury is “worth.” For example, if you and your fellow passenger require a one level cervical fusion after a car accident, both of your pain and suffering claims can be worth anywhere between $100,000 to $150,000. But if the driver at fault only carries the minimum amount of insurance required by Louisiana law, and doesn’t have supplemental umbrella insurance, or you don’t have sufficient under insured motorist coverage, there isn’t enough money to go around. I would be put in a situation in which I’m fighting for more money for one client, and less for another – which is clearly unethical. In this case, both injured parties would need to use two different personal injury attorneys.
Car accident cases can be complicated. If you were injured in a Baton Rouge car accident, and you have questions about what to do next, call RM Legal to schedule a free consultation. You can call us today at (225) 963-9638.