Q: Where to find an attorney for hit and run motor vehicle accident?
Type of accident: Hit & run (documented in police report)
Driver (victim): Oregon resident
Accident location: Idaho (twenty miles from Oregon border, on westbound side of highway)
Policy: Vermont, major insurer
Coverage: Uninsured motorist
Where should we hire the legal counsel for a case with above facts? We have been told to hire someone in ID, Oregon and Vermont. We are totally confused. We then thought someone in Oregon - where she is - with an Idaho license. We do not want to hire someone in Idaho for various reasons. What is the legal determination for where the attorney who handles the case be licensed? We have had attorneys from all three states show interest, but most recently were told it had to be Vermont, as that is where the contract is governed. Which makes perfect sense. Some firms may assume it will settle, and just say it will work and take the case. There is grounds for a bad faith claim. It may go to trial, & we need the properly located counsel to do this.
A: If you and the at-fault driver are residents of Oregon, then you have the option of filing suit in Oregon or Idaho. In Oregon, you would have to file suit in the county in which the at-fault driver resides or the insurer conducts business. If the insurer conducts business in ID and OR, which is probable, then you can bring the bad faith claim in either state, in any county in which the insurer conducts business. If the at-fault driver concedes she caused the collision, and you and your treatment providers are all in Oregon, then it would be cost-efficient to file in OR.
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A: Well, certainly sounds like you have some decisions to make. It seems that it is almost always best to sue where the tortious act/conduct (accident) took place. Of course, this would be Idaho. There is a lot to consider, including convenience to most of the participants and a forum that enables you to recover for your losses. You are not entitled to merely "forum" shop, but it is important to select the best place(s) to pursue claim(s). Some decisions may be made for you, depending on the terms of your insurance policy. Most likely you are required to submit to arbitration should a dispute arise under the agreement about a settlement. On the other hand, you should be able to file a complaint in court on a bad faith claim. You could retain an Oregon attorney to represent you--on the car accident and insurance issues--since you are an Oregon resident. This attorney would not be allowed to file any claims in Idaho unless s/he is licensed there, as well; however, they could work with an Idaho lawyer if litigation appears on the table. If you have insurance claims with a Vermont insurer, to include Bad Faith, then you also might need a lawyer who can file in Vermont in either federal and/or state court. Bad faith claims involve your contractual relationship with the insurance carrier and their handling of a uninsured motorist claim. It could get complicated--as if it doesn't seem like that now. So, perhaps you might need an attorney from all three jurisdictions--or one who is licensed in all three. I am convenient that an experienced attorney can sit down and explain all your options. They more likely will need a more detailed factual summary in order to render a more decisive answer. Wish you the best!
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