Scenario 1: You’re a passenger in your mother’s car when she crashes and injuries you (her fault). A year later, you’re still not back to your construction job. Should you sue her? But wait, she’s your MOM!
Scenario 2: Your best friend’s dog bites and mauls you, leaving you with a permanent facial scar resembling a map of Indonesia. Should you sue him? But wait, he’s your FRIEND!
There are two problems with suing a close relative or friend for personal injuries: (1) How your relative or friend might react and (2) how the jury might react.
The first problem can be easily addressed. Here is how I address it:
Client: “I don’t want to sue my (relative, friend) but I’m really hurt, can’t work, and need some money. Can you help me without hurting my (relative, friend)?”
Me: “Yes, and we can limit your claim to the available insurance coverage so that your claim won’t hurt your (relative, friend). It will only ‘hurt’ their insurance carrier. We need to explain to your (relative, friend) that this is a ‘friendly’ claim, and that you absolutely will not go after any of (his/her) personal assets and that we are seeking only the available insurance coverage.”
Most relatives and friends will understand. There will be no hard feelings. If there are, and you want to “call off” the claim, there will still be time to do so.
What about the jury? That’s a tougher nut to crack. We are not allowed to tell the jury about insurance. Insurance is just plain “off limits” when talking to a jury or putting in evidence. Thus, some jurors might think you are actually suing your own mother for her money! They may hate you for that!
But in my experience, at least a few jurors will “get it”. At least of few of them will know that homeowners’ or auto or business insurance is likely to be “behind the scenes” and that we are really going after that. I help them “get it” by asking, in jury selection, whether any of them work for an insurance company. (I am allowed to ask this question, but not allowed to talk directly about whether there is insurance or not in the case). Many jurors will conclude that since I am asking who works for insurance companies, there must be insurance in the case.Those jurors will generally “educate” the others.
Bottom line: When those who love you hurt you, they should want you to get their available insurance money to help compensate you. Don’t be afraid to “sue the ones you love”. Have your New York personal injury lawyer help you explain to them that the claim will in no way hurt them, and will help you in a big way.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY and Syracuse Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.