In most New Orleans personal injury lawsuits, the person or business responsible for causing the injury will have some form of insurance that provides coverage. Generally, if there is even a possibility that damages as a result of the accident would be covered by insurance, that insurance company is responsible for providing a defense on behalf of the person they insure. This usually includes all decisions regarding the hiring of attorneys to defend the case in court.
While the defense attorneys are technically chosen and hired by the insurance company, this does not mean that they represent only the insurance company’s interests. Under Louisiana law, the insurance company is required to carefully consider not only its own self-interest in a personal injury lawsuit, but also the interest of the party it insures. This requirement extends to the attorneys the insurance company has hired to defend it.
This means that while the insurance company and its attorneys are generally free to settle a lawsuit or go to trial at their own discretion without the input of the actual defendant named in the lawsuit, they also must act in good faith and consider their insured’s interests when making any decision. This includes considering the possibility that if a case is taken to trial, the jury may award damages greater than the amount of insurance available.
While insurance companies must consider the possibility of the insured having to pay damages above the amount of insurance, this does not mean that they must settle a lawsuit within the insurance policy limits just because the injured person is willing to do so. The insurance company and its attorneys, however, must carefully consider all the factors of the case – including the extent of the injuries and the amount of insurance coverage available – before taking any steps that could result in the actual defendant being personally responsible for payment of damages.
If you have suffered a personal injury and have any questions, we would be happy to take your call. We can be reached at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.