Who Are You Suing: The Defendant or an Insurance Company?
In many kinds of accidents, when you speak to your personal injury attorney about your accident, your attorney will often both reference the Defendant (the party that was negligent or which caused your accident), but the attorney may also mention insurance—for example, telling you that “the insurance company wants more information,” or “the insurance company has made a settlement offer.”
But what is the role of insurance in a personal injury case? And who is actually on the other side of the case from you—the actual Defendant, or the insurance company?
Self Insured Companies
Many large companies don’t even use insurance companies for liability. Many are self-insured, and have their own, in-house insurance programs that will act like an insurance company. But that is an expensive endeavor; most smaller businesses, as well as anybody who is driving a car, of course, will have separate insurance.
The Defendant and the Insurance
When you sue someone or a business that is insured, there is a strange interplay. On one hand, it is the Defendant being sued. On the other hand, the Defendant’s insurance company is the one that, by the terms of the policy, is obligated to pay whatever settlement or judgment that the Defendant has to pay.
But if the insurance company is paying whatever the Defendant may owe to you, it wants control of the defense of the case. Most every liability insurance policy says that the insurance company chooses the defense lawyer, and pays and hires the defense lawyer, assuming there is coverage for the accident under the policy.
Legally, the attorney represents the Defendant, no matter who hires or pays the attorney. But practically, the attorney’s bills for services rendered to the Defendant are being paid by the insurance company, and his or her decisions are largely being dictated by the insurance company.
This means that even though you are suing the Defendant, the Defendant itself (or the person you are suing) may have little to do with the defense of the case itself. In fact, there are times when the Defendant may disagree with its own insurance company. The Defendant may want to compensate you for your injuries and “make the case go away,” but the insurance company may not—it may want to continue to fight the case, all the way to trial.
A Lot of Parties
Often, the Defendant will actually have two attorneys (or law firms) in the case: One, defending its personal interests, and another defending the insurance company.
Since insurance companies are handled by adjusters, you could conceivably sue one company, and have a company representative, an insurance adjuster, and two attorneys present, on the other side of the case from you. And that’s with one Defendant being sued; if you are suing two or more people or defendants, you can imagine how the number of parties and representatives in the case multiplies.
Don’t figure out your personal injury case on your own. Get help from the experienced Boston personal injury attorneys at The Law Office of Joseph Linnehan, Jr. Call us today at 617-275-4200 for an initial evaluation of your case.