Can One Attorney Represent Driver and Passenger in a Car Accident Case?

Question:  I was a passenger in a car with the driver.  We had an accident with another car and were both injured.  I believe the driver of the other car was at fault.  Can we both get the same attorney?

Robert’s Answer:  Yes you can, but I would not recommend it.  A responsible attorney would not even accept both cases.  This is because there may be a potential conflict of interest.  Even though you believe the car accident is the other driver’s fault, that doesn’t mean a judge and jury will believe it.  In fact, your driver and the other car maybe both be at fault.  This would then make your driver, at least, partially responsible for your damages. If you and the driver were represented by one  attorney, then the attorney would be representing two clients who have conflicting claims.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if a conflict of interest arises between you and the driver, then the attorney would have to drop both of your cases.  This is because the attorney could not continue to represent one party after having gained confidential and privileged information from the other. For that matter, I wouldn’t even recommend that you consult with the same attorney as the driver.  This way you know you will not end up being dropped because of a conflict of interest.

There have been times where I represented both the driver and passenger in a car accident case.  But I have only done that in situations where the client and I both know that there is no foreseeable chance that the other driver would blame my client for the accident.  A good example would be a rear-end collision.  But even in those case, I have to very careful.  Otherwise, I might put in a whole lot of time and money into a case only to be forced to withdraw from the case and get nothing for my efforts.