One Lawyer, Multiple Accident Victims: Benefits And Complications

If a single accident claims multiple victims, each victim can retain one lawyer for their accident case, or they can all hire one lawyer. The facts of the case and the applicable laws determine which option is viable and beneficial. Below are some benefits and complications of using one lawyer.

The Benefits

You should only consider a single lawyer for all victims if the option benefits you. Below are some of the potential benefits.

Simplify Investigation and Evidence Gathering

An accident claim is a process with multiple stages. For example, you have to:

  • Investigate the accident to identify its cause and defendants.
  • Gather the evidence you need for the case, such as police reports, medical records, and pictures of the accident and accident scene.
  • Trace witnesses and gather their testimony or convince them to testify.

All these take time and require some effort. You greatly simplify the process by using a single lawyer. For example, lawyers don't have to trace potential witnesses one by one.

Minimize Case Expenses

Apart from the legal fees you pay to the lawyer, the case expenses also determine your net compensation. Examples of case expenses include transport costs for witnesses, expert witness fees, document production costs, and deposition costs. Thus, it is in your best interest to minimize the case costs as much as possible.

Using one lawyer helps you to minimize case costs. For example, you can share the expert witness fees instead of each victim paying their expert witness. You can even split the lawyer's legal fees since they will handle one case and charge a percentage of the compensation or judgment. 

The Complications

Although you can benefit from sharing legal representation, you should assess the possible complications first. Only hire one lawyer if the complications don't exist. The biggest potential complication is a conflict of interest.

Legal and ethical laws prevent a lawyer from handling multiple clients if doing so represents a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest arises if the lawyer cannot represent one client to the best of their ability without infringing on another client's rights.

Consider an auto accident that involves four victims, and two of the victims allegedly contributed to the accident. On the one hand, the lawyer must defend the allegations against the two victims. On the other hand, the lawyer must prove the other victim's case against their co-victims. In such a case, one lawyer should not have all four victims as their clients.

Consider another example where multiple victims have costly damages that the defendant's insurance limit cannot cover. One lawyer should not handle such a case because they must maximize their client's compensation. The maximization is impossible if one lawyer works for multiple victims competing for the same compensation pot.

To learn more, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area.