Early in the morning hours of Saturday, February 6th, 20 year old Jamane M. County of Montgomery was driving a 2002 Honda Civic South on U.S. Highway 71 when he lost control of the car. According to an article on thetowntalk.com,
The car ran off the right side of the road, vaulted across a creek, hit an embankment on the opposite side and overturned.
County and two of his passengers sustained moderate injuries and were taken to nearby hospitals; County to Nathitoches Regional, 18 year old Kayla Monroe to Louisiana State University (LSU) Medical Center, and a male juvenile to Rapides Regional Medical Center. A third passenger,19 year old Kimber Vanantwerpen, was injured seriously and also taken to LSU Medical Center.
This accident raises some significant legal issues. As here, when a driver, who may have been acting improperly, is in an accident and passengers are injured, it is important that each party’s legal rights be protected. Despite a friendly relationship between the driver and his passengers, it may be appropriate for one or more of the passengers to bring a negligence claim against the driver. If it can be proven that the driver owed a duty to one or more of his passengers, the duty was breached, and passengers’ injuries resulted from the breach, the driver may be held liable and may be forced to pay damages. If more than one passenger is considering a claim it may seem like a practical, money saving idea for them to hire one attorney to represent them. However, this is not a decision to be taken lightly. It is important that each person considering legal action have an attorney who is able to protect and represent their particular interests. Attorneys are sometimes even restricted by law as to who they may represent if an improper conflict of interest exists.
Under the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, (ethical guidelines which govern the actions of attorneys and have been adopted in Louisiana) an attorney shall not represent a client if doing so involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if the interests of one current client are directly adverse to the interests of another current client. (Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.7 (a)(1)). This rule absolutely prohibits one attorney from representing both parties in the same lawsuit. However, an attorney may represent two different parties that are suing the same person (co-defendants) if they believe they can do so adequately and if all parties give informed consent.
Even if parties give consent to the same representation in a case like this one and no rules are violated, it may still not be in the best interest of each party because their interests may differ too substantially. If you were a passenger in a vehicle that was in an accident and you have been injured the Berniard law firm would be happy to help you navigate your rights. Our attorneys are experienced in the complexities that can arise in these types of cases. Please contact our office Toll-Free at 1-866-574-8005.