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Will It Matter Who Else Is In My Lawsuit?


It is not unusual for more than one person to be injured in a car wreck. People travel together, and frequently more than one person is hurt.

And any close family member has a consortium claim in Ohio if their spouse, child or parent is injured – for the loss of the companionship caused by the injury to their loved one.

But just because you can file suit, doesn’t mean that you should. Consortium claims for minor injuries are usually meaningless; the insurance company won’t pay any more for them. And there are some claims that you don’t want to try together.

A few years ago, I represented a man injured in an accident. After a few months, he told me that his wife was also hurt. I started representing her.

I learned that the couple was not that close. In fact, they got a divorce while I was representing them.

That alone hurt both of their cases, but it got worse.

The wife had some bad things to say about the husband’s personal habits. And she was ready to say other things that would hurt him.

They each wanted me to represent them; they each signed a letter waiving any conflict of interest I might have.

I made a point of filing their cases in separate lawsuits; in fact, I was able to file them in separate courts, so they couldn’t get joined together.

I settled or resolved each case separately. I was very afraid that if one came off badly, it would hurt the other with the jury.

There are many examples of bad “couplings”. The controlling husband. The spendthrift wife. The injured companion who although not at fault, was drunk at the time of the accident.

In each case, there is a chance that – for whatever reason – the jury will unfairly penalize one person because they don’t like another person associated with them.

But some cases are better together. A woman whose husband of thirty years has suffered a crippling injury may have a much better result if her case for loss of companionship is tried along with her husband’s case than if it is tried alone.

And a lot of lawyers think that settlement values are set by the strongest claim in a trial, rather than the weakest one.

What does a good lawyer do?

He considers whether he wants to try the two lawsuits together if he cannot settle them, and whether he has an option. ( A lot of cases cannot legally be separated without settling one of them. And judges will consolidate – or try together – cases arising out of the same accident, if they can.)

He talks it over – honestly – with each client. And then he does what is in each of their best interest if they each approve.

If they don’t agree on what to do, they may need different lawyers.

I have been a lawyer over 30 years. Usually, it is possible to come to a solution that makes everyone happier than the alternative, if not ecstatic. If you have a personal injury case in Cincinnati, Ohio or if you want to know what your lawsuit is worth, talk with an experienced Injury & Accident Law Firmabout the case. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.

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