Many personal injury claims are fairly straightforward. A person’s negligence or oversight leads to the injury of someone else, and damages are sought to compensate for the pain, suffering, and financial losses that are incurred. Without due legal process, an injured person may be stuck with lost wages, significant medical bills, and other overwhelming expenses.
However, when the negligent party is your own loved one, the prospect of filing a lawsuit could leave you feeling conflicted. Following are four things to consider before filing a personal injury suit against a family member.
1. Is It Really Necessary?
Money troubles and legal issues are two things that can create lasting rifts between family members. Personal injury suits often involve both. One of the first things that you should ask yourself before pursuing a claim is how much is a case worth? There are certain cases that are clear-cut in which proving negligence is easy, and getting a fair settlement won’t require a lot of research or work.
However, many of these same cases result in very modest settlement amounts. As such, the victim’s losses weren’t overwhelming. In these instances, attempting to work the issue out with your relative can save both of you the extra hassle of legal fees. Have an honest discussion with your loved one and if necessary, have your claim evaluated by a reputable attorney.
An attorney can examine the dynamics of the situation, assess your losses, estimate your settlement amount, and help you decide whether or not pursuing a case is actually worth the trouble. Sometimes, it’s far more sensible to preserve family bonds instead.
2. What’s the True Measure of Your Losses?
Never make a hasty decision about whether or not to pursue a claim. Instead, take the time to learn more about your accident and its effects. Before making any verbal or written statements about whether you’ll file a personal injury lawsuit:
- Go to the doctor and have your injuries examined and documented
- Find out how much time you’ll need to take off of work and how much money you’re likely to lose as a result
- Determine whether or not your treatment plan will require any special medical services
If your injuries are extensive and your estimated medical costs and lost wages are substantial, filing a claim may be the only practical decision. Keep in mind that if your relative is insured and aware of the damages that you’re facing, they may be more than willing to support and assist you in your legal efforts.
3. How Will Your Own Insurance Company React?
It’s important to note that your own insurance company may require you to file a lawsuit. Whenever medical bills are submitted for the treatment of injuries, insurers want to know whether a negligent party can be held liable instead. This keeps them for paying for medical treatments that the negligent party’s insurance is ultimately responsible for.
Be forthright with your loved one throughout every step of this process. Relatives tend to be most understanding of decisions to file personal injury lawsuits when these measures are required.
4. Is Negligence an Ongoing Problem?
You may have a relative who’s often negligent in ways that are harmful to others. Sometimes filing personal injury lawsuits are important for encouraging people to change their behaviors. If you’ve been harmed on the property of someone who’s had several dog bite or drowning events in the past, filing a claim could be an ethical responsibility.
Suing a relative is never fun. Although you may be tempted to simply cut your losses and shoulder the damages on your own, considering the full impact of your injury could be important for avoiding financial devastation. With the guidance of a reputable attorney, and with the four strategies above, you can determine whether pursuing a case is actually worthwhile.