Can We Hire the Same Lawyer

Question:  I was a passenger in a car that was involved in an accident.  The driver and I were both injured.  Can we hire the same lawyer?

Answer:  You can, but the lawyer has to be careful that there isn’t going to be a conflict of interest.  If there is any chance that the driver of the other car is going to make a claim that your driver was at-fault in the accident, then you (as the innocent passenger) have a potential claim against both drivers for your injuries.  As such, the same lawyer could not represent you and your driver even if you believe that your driver was not negligent in any way.  This is because a jury could find that either driver, or both drivers, were at fault in the accident and you would then have a claim against your driver for some (or all) of your damages.

The only time I would represent a driver and passenger in the same accident is if there is no real chance of a dispute arising about who caused the accident.  For example, in a rear-end collision, I might represent both clients because of the very limited chance of a conflict arising as to fault.  But in an intersection collision where both drivers might claim to have the right-of-way, I will not represent both a driver and passenger.

Clients also need to be aware of potential conflicts of interest developing.  This is because if a conflict does arise, the attorney must withdraw from both cases.  Then both clients are in a difficult position of having to find other attorneys willing to take on a case mid-way through the claims process.

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