Do I have to provide personal information to another party’s lawyer?

I was in in an auto accident and I was at fault. My auto insurance has offered the injured party $100,000 to settle medical bills, but the injured party’s laywer has said that $100,000 is insufficient to cover the bills. I received a letter from the injured party’s lawyer asking for personal information regarding any additional insurance I may have and my job status/employer information at the time of the accident. Legally, am I obligated to provide personal information to their lawyer, and should I get a lawyer of my own?

Asked on November 9, 2011 under Accident Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) Until a legal action is actually instituted, and if/once one is, the plaintiff (party suing you) uses the legal process of discovery (e.g. written questions called interrogatories; document production requests; depositions; subpoenas) you do not have to provide information--until you get such a legal request in the context of litigation, it is voluntary. But once you have received a formal legal request, you must then comply with it.

2) There are often grounds to object to specific informational requests, on the grounds they are abusive, not relevant, contain certain privileged information, etc. An attorney will know how  to do this.

3) If you have insurance, your insurer should be providing an attorney for you--check your policy, but almost all policies obligate them to defend. The exception is they only need to defend up to the policy limit. If you are only covered for up to $100k, but your insurer believes you are clearly at fault and liable for more than that, they may simply be offering the policy limit, after which you are on your own.

So either you should be getting a lawyer from (or at least paid for by) your insurer...or if they are just going to pay to their limit, then you need to get an attorney of your own (as you would if you feel that for any reason, they are not representing your intererests well).


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