Filing a lawsuit against a friend or family member isn’t ideal, but if you’ve been hurt and their insurance company refuses to pay, it may be necessary.
Last year, a remarkable story made headlines across the nation: an aunt sued her nephew after a “forceful greeting and hug” led to a broken wrist (and $127,000 worth of medical bills!). The aunt was met with ridicule, with this lawsuit being touted as an example of the legal system run amuck. But it turns out that the aunt had no choice but to sue her nephew — many other injured parties often find themselves in a similar position. As any experienced personal injury lawyer will tell you, sometimes filing a lawsuit against a friend or family member is the only way that an injured person will be compensated for their injuries.
The Real Story
While this case seems outrageous, the real issue arose when the insurance company (representing the nephew’s parents) refused to pay the aunt for her injuries. They offered her just one dollar for her broken wrist, which required at least two surgeries to repair. The aunt and nephew remain close — it was simply a matter of filing suit to force the insurance company to do what it is obligated to do and cover the aunt’s fairly serious medical injuries. Unfortunately, a jury recently rejected the aunt’s claims — letting the insurance company off the hook for paying anything for her loss.
Why You May Be Required to Sue
In Connecticut, where the case above happened, and in other states such as California, if you have a claim against another party for negligence or wrongdoing, you will need to sue that person directly — not their insurance company — to recover. In fact, in California, you will typically have to sue a wrongdoer directly rather than sue their insurance company. This may make for uncomfortable situations if you have to sue a friend or family member — but it may be necessary.
This is due in part to insurance rules that require an injured party to sue to recover the costs of medical treatment. If you are bitten by your best friend’s dog, for example, your health insurance company may require you to sue your friend so that her health insurance covers the cost of your treatment. You are not suing your friend because you are angry at them — but because it is the only way that your medical costs will be covered by insurance. It seems incredible, but it is how our insurance system often works in the United States. You are technically filing suit against your friend or family member with the ultimate goal of forcing their insurance company to pay for your losses.
Of course, not every insurance company refuses to pay without a lawsuit; there are plenty of situations where it is simply enough to file a claim. An experienced personal lawyer can assist you with this process, and increase the chances of recovering for your injuries — with or without a lawsuit.
At the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, we have decades of experience handling all types of personal injury claims, from car, truck and bus accidents to dog bites, bike crashes, products liability, and more. Contact our office today at 800-333-0000 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a fee consultation. We represent our clients on a contingency fee bases, which means that we never charge you a fee unless we are able to recover money for you.