Do Insurance Companies Provide Attorneys When You Are Injured?
If you were in a car accident, you might have been injured. The first thought that crosses your mind is probably not whether your insurance company will provide an attorney to represent you in a personal injury claim arising out of an accident. However, this is a great question to ask, and the answer often depends on what caused the injury and whether you were at fault. For example, if you are accused of causing a car accident that led to your injuries or caused another person to get injured, your car insurance company may hire a lawyer to defend your case in court.
So, the short answer is yes. Sometimes, liability insurance companies get involved in injury cases. The types of cases liability insurance companies are generally involved in include car accidents, medical malpractice, construction, products liability, premises liability and several other personal injury claims. In this article, we’ll specifically look at a car accident and car insurance claim example.
Insurance Companies and the Duty to Defend
As a general rule, a policy issued by a car insurance company will contain language promising to provide an attorney for the holder of the policy in the event a car accident results in a lawsuit for damages. The term “duty to defend” is taken from this provision in the policy. Essentially, a duty to defend means that if someone makes a claim against you for an alleged wrongful act that caused injury, the insurance company must defend the claim, regardless of merit.
Despite this promise, there are, of course, exceptions to the rule. In other words, there might be times where an insurance company is not obligated to represent the holder of the insurance policy. What are these exceptions?
Failing to Notify Insurance Company of Claim or Accident
One of the first things you should always do if you are involved in an accident, regardless of fault, is to notify your insurance company. Most policies require an insured party to notify their claims department within a certain time frame to fulfill their obligation as a policyholder.
Of course, if you were severely injured, you could be excused from the timing requirement tied to notice. You could also be excused from the time limit based on mental incapacity or some other extenuating circumstance. The best practice if you are in an accident? Notify your insurance company as soon as possible.
Intentionally Causing a Car Accident
Another reason for a liability insurance company to refuse to defend you is if you intentionally caused an accident. Intentionally causing an accident will also likely void any coverage you would have been entitled to under the insurance policy. Car insurance policies are typically written to provide coverage for negligent acts, not intentional acts. Word to the wise: don’t intentionally cause an accident!
Exceeding Policy Limits with Damages
Your insurance may also be absolved from their duty to defend if they pay out the policy limits in damages. Once policy limits are met, the insurance company no longer has any duty to defend the holder of the insurance.
Should You Hire Your Own Attorney?
Personal injury claims can be complicated, especially where there are significant injuries involved. Legal time limitations for filing claims, insurance terminology and medical expenses can be challenging to navigate if you aren’t familiar with those practices. If the other party is represented by an attorney, it may make matters even more complicated. It is important to remember that any time that you are injured in an accident, whether it is your fault or someone else’s fault, you have the right to consult an attorney.
At McManus Law, we offer a range of legal services to our clients. We pride ourselves on providing friendly, knowledgeable assistance to our clients. With over thirty years of legal experience under our belts, we are familiar with many of the issues that frequently arise in car accident cases. Call us at 770-645-8801 us today to schedule a consultation.