Lawyer deemed negligent in handling of insurance claim
A North Sydney lawyer has been found to be negligent in his representation of a Sydney man’s insurance claim stemming from a motor vehicle accident.
Supreme Court Justice Peter Rosinski ruled this week that David Iannetti had a duty of care to advise George Poulain that he should seek another lawyer’s advice in connection with a proposed settlement of an insurance claim. In his decision, Rosinski concluded that the contract between Iannetti and Poulain only dealt with one aspect of the insurance claim and that it was Poulain alone dealing with the second claim.
The judge ruled that when Poulain called Iannetti and asked him for an opinion on whether he should sign off on the second claim, Iannetti should have recommended he seek separate counsel.
“Mr. Iannetti did not recommend to Mr. Poulain that he obtain independent legal advice. Mr. Iannetti did not provide Mr. Poulain with sufficient informa- tion to allow Mr. Poulain to make an informed decision regarding his inquiry as what he was giving up by signing the release,” said Rosinski, adding Iannetti also failed to advise Poulain there was potential for further benefits beyond a two-year limitation.
Poulain was injured in a car accident in 2001 and since Iannetti was already representing him, pro bono, in an unrelated matter, Poulain asked Iannetti to accept the case.
The court ruled that the contract with Iannetti was only for one aspect of the insurance claim and that Poulain was handling the other claim himself.
Rosinski also ruled he was satisfied that Poulain only called Iannetti once concerning the second stage of the claim and that was whether he should accept the offer.
Rosinski ruled that Iannetti’s answer was not a breach but that Iannetti did have a duty to “either clearly and emphatically recommend that Mr. Poulain seek independent legal advice from another lawyer before signing the release.”