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Do we need separate lawyers?

Last September I was out on a pleasure ride with my wife on the back and happily riding along enjoying the dry sunny day. A transit van was waiting at a junction ahead of me, about 70 to 80 metres away and indicating to turn right. He suddenly drove out giving me no time to react and there was an accident in which we were both injured. My insurers instructed a lawyer to act for us both and so far everything has been fine.

However, the van driver’s insurer is now saying that I was partly to blame for exceeding the speed limit (I was not) and says there is now a conflict of interest and my wife and I should have different lawyers. My lawyer says this is not needed. What is the correct position please?
Sam, by e-mail


If the Defendant is pursuing an allegation of contributory negligence against you, i.e. that you were partly at fault, you and your wife should have separate solicitors. Your wife is going to succeed in full with her claim either entirely against the van driver or with your insurer making up the balance of the claim relating to your degree of blame. Remember that it is for the Defendant to prove contributory negligence – in this case that you were exceeding the speed limit and that the speed was materially relevant to the accident.

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