Scottsdale Lawyers Represent AZ Family Injured in CA Car Accident
Scottsdale Injury Lawyers was recently hired to represent an Arizona family that was injured in a car accident while travelling to California. The family resides in Scottsdale, Arizona. The family selected Scottsdale Injury Lawyers because lead trial counsel, Tony Piccuta, is licensed to practice there and regularly handles cases in California. This is in addition to Arizona where the firm has most of its cases.
Details of the California Car Accident
In March of 2019, the family took a trip to Southern California. As they were travelling on Interstate 10, they exited in Palm Springs. Upon taking the off-ramp exit, they came to a stop at a traffic light. They were stopped momentarily. Without warning they were rear-ended at a moderate to high rate of speed. The family was unable to brace for the impact. They were thrust backward and forward due to the forces caused in the crash.
Five individuals were in the clients’ vehicle. This included a mother and father with their minor child. As well as the grandmother of the minor child, who is of advanced age, and a family friend. All five were injured and suffered some sort of spinal injury. Preliminary testing and examination revealed that the injuries range from cervical and lumbar strains to concussions.
Conflicts of Interest Must Be Considered When One Attorney Represents More Than One Injured Person
In any case where an attorney represents more than one injured client, that attorney must take into account any actual and potential conflicts of interest. An attorney owes a duty of loyalty to his or her client and must put his or her client’s best interests before others and even before the interests of the attorney.
Arizona Rule of Professional Conduct, Ethical Rule 1.7 specifically addresses this. Ethical Rule 1.7 sets forth as follows:
“[with certain exceptions] a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if: (1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or (2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer.”
In situations where there are multiple injured passengers in a vehicle, representing all those individuals can prove problematic and can be a potential conflict of interest.
In situations where there are multiple injured passengers in a vehicle, representing all those individuals can prove problematic and can be a potential conflict of interest. This is especially true in a situation where there is a limited amount of funds from which the injured individuals may recover. For example, if the maximum available insurance totals $30,000, then all the injured individuals would be required to split this amount. Essentially, all those injured individuals will be competing for the same source of funds. Typically, the way this is done is by calculating each injured individual’s total damages and then disbursing that amount on a pro-rata or pro-rated basis.
How to Calculate a Pro-Rated Share of an Insurance Policy Between More Than One Injured Party
What follows is an example of how an insurance policy may be pro-rated between more than one injured person. Assume that there are three injured individuals in this scenario. If one injured person had $10,000 in medial treatment and the other two injured individuals had $5,000 in medical treatment each, then the pro-rata split would be calculated as follows.
Injured individual with $10,000 in medical expenses/treatment – 50%
Injured Individual #1 with $5,000 in medical expenses/treatment -25%
Injured Individual #2 with $5,000 in medical expenses/treatment – 25%
Total: $20,000 in total medical expenses/treatment – 100%
After calculating each injured individual’s percentage share of damages (based on medical treatment only in this example), then the percentage amount would be multiplied by the policy limits to determine how much each individual should arguably receive.
$30,000 total insurance policy available.
$30,000 x 50% = $15,000 for Injured individual with $10,000 in medical expenses/treatment.
$30,000 x 25% = $7,500 for Injured individual #1 with $5,000 in medical expenses/treatment.
$30,000 x 25% = $7,500 for injured individual #2 with $5,000 in medical expenses/treatment.
Of course, the above example is not comprehensive and is a simplistic example of how to potentially pro-rate the share of multiple injured claimants when presented with a limited source of funds. In this example, all other damages are not considered. This example only considers medical expenses/treatment and assumes everything else for the injured individuals is the same.
Obviously, this is never the case. Injured individuals may have additional claimable damages such as lost earnings, permanency of injuries or need for future medical care. In addition, each injured individual will have a different experience when it comes to pain and suffering.
An attorney who is representing more than one injured individual, arising from the same incident, event or accident, may be put into a position where he is unable to advocate for both clients. By advocating for one, he is necessarily not advocating for the other. To serve his clients best, he should really be advocating for one client to make sure that his client receives the maximum available of the limited source of funds.
When Waiving a Conflict of Interest May Make Sense
There are general exceptions to this rule. One exception is when the attorney is representing immediate family members who have a close relationship. In that situation, the family members may prefer to deal with one attorney only and a settlement for any of them potentially benefits all of them. Nevertheless, if the attorney is to take on such representation, then he must inform the clients about both the actual and potential conflicts of interest and advise them to seek guidance from other attorneys as they feel needed. After they are fully informed, he should obtain their consent in writing.
Fortunately, for the firm’s clients who were injured in Palm Springs, no such conflict exists. Here, the owner of the vehicle in which the clients were travelling maintained very high policy limits of underinsured motorist coverage. As such, the total damages of the five new clients should all be paid in full with no need to reduce or pro-rate. This is because there is sufficient insurance available. The total insurance available far exceeds the combined damages of all the clients involved. The firm will not need to advocate for one client to the detriment of another. None of the clients will be competing for the same source of limited funds.
Contact Scottsdale Injury Lawyers Today to Discuss Your Car Accident Injury Case
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident or otherwise, contact Scottsdale Injury Lawyers today. A skilled personal injury attorney is available now. An attorney will provide you a free consultation and discuss any potential issues with your case. An attorney will give you legal advice as to what your options are and how best to protect your rights.
About the author: The content on this page was written by Scottsdale personal injury attorney and civil rights lawyer, Tony Piccuta. Piccuta graduated with honors from Indiana University-Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, Indiana (Ranked Top 35 US News & World Report 2018). Piccuta took and passed the State bars of Arizona, California, Illinois and Nevada (all on the first try). He actively practices throughout Arizona and California. He is a trial attorney that regularly handles serious personal injury cases and civil rights lawsuits. He has obtained six and seven figure verdicts in both state and federal court. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers for six years straight. He is a member of the Arizona Association of Justice, Maricopa County Bar Association, Scottsdale Bar Association, American Association for Justice, National Police Accountability Project and Consumer Attorneys of California, among other organizations.
Disclaimer: The information on this web site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Reading and relying upon the content on this page does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, you should contact our law firm for a free consultation and to discuss your specific case and issues. Source:  https://www.azbar.org/for-lawyers/ethics/rules-of-professional-conduct/