Defining the Roles in the Tripartite Relationship
The tripartite relationship refers to the relationship between the insurer, the insured, and the attorney arising out of the insurance contract. Each party to the relationship has their own respective duties and roles, which will be discussed in turn. In litigation, it is critical for each member of the tripartite relationship to understand its role and responsibilities. .
- Insurer: The insurer’s role includes the duty to defend, and right to select defense of the claim, control the defense of the claim, and negotiate and settle the claim (if provided for).
*The role between the insured and the insurer is defined by the insurance contract, with any ambiguities being interpreted by the courts in favor of the insured.
- Insured: The insured’s role includes the duties to give timely notice of the claim and cooperate with the defense of the claim.
- Attorney: The attorney’s role is defined by the North Carolina Revised Rules of Professional Conduct. The Rules govern the attorney-client relationship, and create requirements that a defense attorney must follow regarding competence, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, and receiving fees from persons other than the client.
The tripartite relationship is formed with the primary objective of achieving a successful result in litigation. This relationship, while seemingly simple on the surface, can create numerous, and often complex questions depending on the peripheral goals and interests of the parties, which are not always mutual. Understanding the roles and each role’s responsibility is critical throughout the claims process.
If you have questions about the tripartite relationship or other workers’ compensation topics, reach out to Teague Campbell’s team of workers’ compensation attorneys.
 N.C. Admin. Code, Tit.27, Ch2, Canons I-VIII.