Legal Articles
Auto Accidents
Get Started Finding a Local Attorney Now

Simply fill out this form to connect with an Attorney serving your area.

Who Makes The Decisions In Auto Accidents - Insurance Company Or You

Who Makes The Decisions In Auto Accidents - Insurance Company Or You

You've been in a car accident. Fortunately, you were not hurt. You report the accident to your insurance company and start the process of getting your car repaired. Just as life is returning to normal, you are served with lawsuit papers. The other driver is suing you!

The good news is since you're insured, your insurance company has the duty to defend you and pay any judgments against you, up to their limit of liability. This means that the insurance company will pay for an accident attorney to defend you throughout the case. What if you and the insurance company disagree on how the case should be handled? That's where it gets a little tricky.

When Damages Fall Within Liability Limits

If the case can be settled within the insurance policy's limit liability, generally the insurance company gets to control the litigation. Yes, that means the insurance company can settle the case even if you think it should go to trial. The thinking is, since they have to pay for it, they get to make the decision. The question gets more interesting, however, when someone is suing you for more money than the policy will pay, or for damages the policy may not cover such as punitive damages. In these situations, you have an uninsured interest that could result in you paying money in addition to what your insurance company pays.

When to Seek Independent Counsel

Whenever you are sued for an amount of money or damages that your insurance company may not pay for, you should retain independent counsel. Independent means independent of the insurance company. This attorney will answer to you only, and can advise you on your rights not only on damages that your policy may not cover, but also on how your insurance company is handling your case. If the insurance company is making decisions that could have an adverse effect on you, the attorneys hired by the insurance company may not be able to advise you on your rights because of a conflict of interest between you and your insurance company. Independent counsel has no such conflict and can advise you, and demand that your insurance company not make decisions which will increase your uninsured liability.

If you are being defended by an insurance company and want to retain independent counsel, retain an experienced insurance law attorney though