Is a second lawyer necessary to represent us regarding an accident if policy limits were exceeded?
Question Details: I have a question about an accident that my wife had. She rear-ended a truck and there was no visible damage to it. The police report was rated the incident at 0-1 on a scale of 0-5, air bags did not deploy on either vehicle and both drivers drove away in their own cars. Now the other driver is suing us for $100,000 and no more than $200,000 because she couldn't settle with the insurance company. She claims that she had a personal injury from the accident but I honestly think that she is just trying to make money out of it. We faxed all the lawsuit papers to the insurer as told and now they hired a lawyer to represent us. They say that if we want to hire our own lawyer to work along their lawyer we can do so because the lawsuit exceeds the policy liability limit as I only have the minimum required by state law. Do you think that it would be beneficial for us to hire another lawyer to work along with the insurance provided lawyer to represent us because of the liability amount? If the answer is yes, how much do you charge or is this a per hour basis and is there a price cap and do you have any idea on how much this would cost us? I really don't want to make the extra expense if you don't think it is necessary.
Yes, it would be beneficial to hire your own attorney: the insurer is only obligated to defend or settle the case up to your policy limits, and if you have only the TX minimum, which I believe is around $30k but the suit is for $100k+, they could decide to, instead of spending money defending you court, simply pay her the $30k and they are done...which will leave you potentially being liable for the other $70k in this example. When you potentally face signficant personal liability, you want a lawyer defending you.
I practice in NJ, where legal costs are generally higher than in TX. I would charge at an hourly rate of $200/hour for this case and would expect that the defense of the case would run between $10k and $20k.