My son and 5 other people (bandmates) were rearended by a tractor trailer a year ago. My son was driving and received injuries that required substantial medical treatment. We retained seperate representation from the other 5, as there injuries were minor or nonexistent. There are two levels of insurance involved, but after one year now our attorney tells us we cannot progress because the attorney for the others involved will not present any medical documentation of injury. The fact is they do not have any medical documentation because none received treatment after the accident. My question is, can they really hold up our settlement, possibly for more than the 2 year limitation, without us being able to do anything about it. My attorny says they can, but I find this hard to beleive. Thank you.
3 Answers from Attorneys
This situation is a case of the "tail wagging the dog" and is procedurally unacceptable.If the coverage is limited and your injuries are substantial in comparison to the other litigants, there are a few options.
Counsel should obtain the name of the other attorneys involved and contact them to discuss a global settlement. If the other claimants are not represented then the attorney can contact them directly. If he is unsuccessful then he might file a lawsuit immediately and ask the carrier to interplead the funds (deposit them into court).
You refer to 2 levels of coverage and I am unclear as to what you mean. I assume that the two levels of insurance are the carrier for the negligent driver and your Underinsured Motorist coverage. If so, you need not exhaust the underlying coverage for the other driver before pursuing the Underinsured Motorist benefits, if the injuires warrant that level of coverage.
This advice presumes that theinjuries warrant the recovery at all levels since you did not discuss your injuries or damages.
This answer to your legal inquiry is based upon the limited facts stated in your question. Accurate legal advice is based upon an exchange between a lawyer and a client. The lawyer can then ask about other facts that may change or confirm the answer. Without that exchange, this reply should be considered limited in value. You should rely on this answer only at your own risk. Direct consultation with a lawyer is always recommended. Answering your question does not create an attorney-client relationship.
The unfortunate answer is possibly. Most auto insurance liability policies have split coverage. There is usually a per person maximum and a per accident maximum. Some insurance carriers will refuse to negotiate until the expiration of the Statute of Limitations so that it is clear how many claims may be viable. This is especially the case where there are multiple possible Plaintiffs. There is no obligation on the insurance company to settle. As such, you will have no choice but to file suit.
Your question was " can they really hold up our settlement, possibly for more than the 2 year limitation, without us being able to do anything about it. My attorny says they can, but I find this hard to beleive."
My response is that this would be totally unacceptable. I'd take the bull by the horns and file suit now if the insurance carrier(s) do not want to talk settlement.
Terry D. Goldberg. Esquire