Personal injury is part of civil law. A personal injury claim provides compensation to someone who is a victim of an accident or some type of wrong. The plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is the injured person. The defendant is the person the claim is brought against.
There is a component of liability in a personal injury case. The plaintiff, depending on the state, must be found wholly or partially at fault for an accident or resulting injuries.
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There are different scenarios where you might consider suing a family member for personal injury. One of the most common is if you’re a passenger in a car with them, and you’re involved in an accident.
So what should you know about potentially suing a family member?
Being a Passenger
While it’s certainly not the only reason you might be thinking about suing a family member for personal injury, it is one of the big ones—being a passenger in a vehicle. If you’re in one of the six million accidents annually, you may also be one of the three million people injured.
Front-seat passengers have among the highest rate of death in car accidents. Rear seat passengers are more likely to have traumatic brain injuries. Both front and back passengers are more likely than a driver to have abdominal injuries.
In these accident situations, the driver may be legally responsible or at-fault for a passenger’s injuries.
A driver is negligent if they didn’t exercise reasonable care, such as violating traffic laws. Distracted driving, speeding, or not stopping at a red light are examples of drivers not exercising reasonable care.
Since you weren’t the driver, you’ll have to file a third-party injury claim with the driver’s insurance company if they were the responsible party. You can also click here to learn more about filing claims.
If your family member who is driving is your spouse or perhaps child, then you may be able to sue their insurance company. As the injured person, you will have to prove the driver was at fault. In some cases, you can’t if you’re immediate family because their insurance covers you as well.
The important thing to realize is that you’re not suing the family member themselves. You’re suing their insurance company.
There’s another potential situation in which you might consider whether or not you can sue a family member.
Premises liability refers to cases where you’re hurt on someone else’s property.
If you’re hurt on the property of a family member, the ideal goal would be to work it out amongst yourselves without taking the legal route.
That may not happen, however, and you might not be able to agree to a resolution.
If you’re hurt, and you’re dealing with financial expenses as a result, then you might need to file a lawsuit.
If you’re hurt in someone else’s home, typically, homeowner’s insurance should cover it. As an example, if your family member’s dog bit you, then you should be covered by their homeowner’s policy.
Homeowner’s insurance can also cover injuries from falling because of something unsafe on a property and injuries that occur as the result of a homeowner’s negligence.
There are certain things that homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover, however. For example, if you live together with your spouse and your spouse’s dog bites you, you don’t have a valid claim against your own homeowner’s insurance.
The biggest takeaway from all of this is that there is a reason for insurance, and it’s for situations like the ones named above.
While your family member may be named on a personal injury claim, that’s only because it grants access to their relevant insurance policies.
If you hire a personal injury attorney, they’ll be negotiating not with your family member but rather with their insurance company to get you the most compensation for your injuries and damages.
If you think about it, that’s the entire purpose behind insurance altogether. It’s to cover people when situations like those above happen.
If you’re hurt, especially seriously in an accident, and it’s the fault of someone else, you might benefit from speaking to an attorney. Otherwise, you could end up shouldering all of the related expenses on your own. The reality is you can technically sue a family member for a personal injury, but that’s not what you’re actually doing.
You’re filing a claim against their insurance, which should pay in these cases.
If you are going to talk to a lawyer about a personal injury situation, but upfront and honest with your family member about why and how it will work.