• Caleb Meriwether

Duty to Cooperate

Your policy of insurance most likely places a duty on you to cooperate with the insurer in the investigation of a claim and also in your defense. Most of us are more than willing to cooperate if we have some immediate stake in the outcome - getting my house repaired, my car fixed, or my disability claim paid. But it becomes a completely different matter when someone sues you and the insurance company assigns an attorney to defend you. While lawyering, I was always surprised at the number of individuals who seemingly didn't care one bit about being sued.

After all, you didn't asked to be sued. Hopefully you have adequate limits of insurance and therefore have no potential for personal exposure. And you are busy. You do not want to deal with a lawsuit. I cannot tell you how many times I had a client complain to me about having to take time to defend a lawsuit - "this is why I have insurance."

Helping an attorney draft an answer, responding to interrogatories and requests for various documents, and appearing for a deposition are time-consuming and stressful. The temptation to ignore a lawsuit is real.

But you must cooperate with your attorney. Your policy of insurance requires it. A failure to cooperate could be grounds for the insurance company to cancel your policy. Lawyers and judgments are expensive.

The trouble most often began during the discovery process of a lawsuit. A major part of discovery is responding to interrogatories and requests for production. Interrogatories are just a set of questions to obtain information about you and your knowledge of the facts of the case. Requests for production generally ask you to produce documents in your possession. The questions can be long and personal. No one - especially not attorneys - enjoys answering discovery requests. But you must and you must do it in a timely manner. Trial courts have broad authority to sanction attorneys and parties to a lawsuit for a failure to respond to discovery, to include entering a judgment against the offending party. Your insurance carrier could very well cancel your policy of insurance if you fail to participate in your defense.

You don't have to organize your defense. But you do have to participate in it.

LEGAL JARGON DISCLAIMER: The foregoing is not legal advice. Even if you construe it that way, it’s probably only worth what you paid for it. I am an attorney but am not yours.

Whether you are a Haven client or not, I’m always available to discuss.