When handling motor vehicle accident cases, clients often ask who will be representing the defendant. Clients are often unaware that in the majority of cases the defendant’s insurance policy will provide an attorney, free of charge and that ultimately the defendant’s insurance company will dictate the direction of the legal defense.
Typically under the terms of the automobile liability policy, the insured or defendant is provided additional coverage that provides a defense attorney to the insured. This also typically includes the payment of attorney fees and costs for the defendant. Further, this defense expense is usually extended all the way through trial and will include the insurance carrier paying court costs on behalf of the insured.
There are limitations to the scope of the defense attorney’s work, which is defined by the insurance policy and thus coverage of the insurance policy is only extended when the complaint alleges facts with the scope of the insurance policy. Florida case law has drawn certain distinctions including exclusions related to bodily injury or property damage caused intentionally by the insured. See Capoferri v. Allstate Insurance Co., 322 So.2d 625 (Fla. 3d DCA 1975). In this instance, if the complaint only alleges that the insured intentionally drove his car into the plaintiff, the insurance company would have the right to deny coverage and therefore not provide an attorney to defend against the lawsuit.
Because the at fault driver will likely have an attorney provided and paid for by his insurance company, it always best that the victim consult with an attorney to learn their rights and to understand the relationship between all of the parties involved. If you have been hurt in a car, bus, truck, or motorcycle accident we encourage you to contact Givens Givens Sparks for a free case evaluation.