Lawyer's Duty to Locate Potential Tortfeasors In Personal Injury Cases

In Greene v. State of California (1990) 222 Cal. App. 3d 117 [272 Cal. Rptr. 52], an employee with the county clerk's office told counsel's secretary that the accident location was in Orange County. However, the issue was not the location of the accident but ownership of the roadway where the accident occurred. The Greene court commented: "Even assuming appellant was erroneously advised the county owned the roadway, it is incredible counsel did not immediately file an application and claim with the state to protect her client's interests. Attorneys representing clients in personal injury matters routinely try to locate as many potential tortfeasors as possible to ensure his or her client receives adequate compensation." (Id. at p. 122.) Greene held there was no basis for relief where counsel failed to exercise reasonable diligence to discover the true owner of the site where the accident occurred. (Id. at p. 123.)