How to Decide Whether or Not to Hire a Second Attorney When You Are Sued For Personal Injury

by F. Counts
(Maryland)

I was recently served with Suit papers regarding a personal injury allegedly caused by an accident that I was involved in. I obviously let my insurance company know immediately. They hired an attorney, but do I need to hire one to look out for my interests also? I am being sued for more than the amount of my policy limits. A. O., Baltimore.


The wording in your question makes it clear that you have insurance and that you have already notified your insurance company that you have been sued; both of these things are very good.

If you read your insurance policy under the section regarding lawsuits, you will invariably find that your insurance company is obligated to provide you with a defense. Even though the insurance company chose the defense attorney they retained for you and they are footing his bill, you are that attorney’s client. He (or she) has an ethical and professional obligation to look out for your best interests, even if your best interests do not match the company’s interests. For example, he or she may feel that it would be in your best interest for the insurance company to make a larger settlement offer to try to resolve the case instead of trying it in Court.

It is important to remember that just because a person sues another for a certain amount of money that does not automatically mean that the case is worth that amount. That being said, in cases where the policy holder is being sued for an amount that is more than their liability policy limits, the insurance company and the attorney that they retained should let the insured person know that he or she is entitled to also hire their own personal attorney. It is important to consider that the insured person is responsible for the legal expenses of the attorney that they retain. It is not mandatory that you hire a second attorney, but it is also your right to do so if you wish. If a personal attorney is hired, they will serve as another set of eyes on your case. Also, if there is any real chance that your personal assets could be at risk, your personal attorney (the one that you hired) can advise you as to what steps you can take to protect them.

We cannot give legal advice here; it would be good for you to have a conversation with the attorney that your insurance company hired to defend you. He or she will not be offended by your questions (and if they are, who cares?), and will not feel put out in any way if you decide that it is best for you to hire your own attorney since your own assets could be at risk.

This article is written for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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