My daughter got in an altercation at school and we are being sued. My insurance company says they will provide me a lawyer, but she has to represent herself. Can they do that?

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My daughter got in an altercation at school and we are being sued. My insurance company says they will provide me a lawyer, but she has to represent herself. Can they do that?

My daughter is currently 13 and had just turned 12 at the time of the event. She pulled the girl’s hair and she fell down and hit the pavement and they are now claiming 15 months later that the girl is still suffering from post concussive syndrome and it is affecting her schooling and

Asked on August 6, 2018 under Insurance Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

It is not clear what your insurer means they say "she has to represent herself"--a 13-year-old cannot represent herself in court. If your homeowner's policy would cover this, your insurer should be either defending you (proving the lawyer) or settling the case (paying out some amount within your policy limits that the girl's family accepts as payment in full of all claims). You need to find out from your insurer if they will pay for an attorney if and when you are sued; if they will not, hire you own attorney when sued (and if necessary, sue your insurer for "breach of contract" for not honoring their obligation to defend you) to seek reimbursement of your legal expenses and any amounts you end up having to pay.
An important thing is, you do not have to pay anything unless you are sued and lose: without a successful lawsuit against you, you have no obligation to pay the other side anything.
If the matter does go to trial, to win, the other side will have to prove that your daughter acted in an age-inappropriate way and that her actions caused the alleged injuries, and also prove the extent of the injuries with medical testimony.


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