September 2018 – I am a passenger in my friend’s car… strike that, my best friend’s car, and she is involved in a motor vehicle accident. I am seriously hurt. How can I possibly sue my best friend?
This question has been posed to me quite often over the course of my career. People quite often are reluctant to sue someone they know and love. It is a normal human emotion not to want to sue a family member or friend, but it is just that, an emotion and not a reasoned, thoughtful decision. Now I’m not advocating that you sue ANYBODY without just cause, but, if you are injured as a result of your friend’s negligence, be it in a car or at their home, you should seriously consider retaining an attorney and filing a claim.
I answer people this way: Do you have liability insurance for your car, home? Well, yes, of course, you do. Do you carry that insurance just to remunerate strangers if they are injured as a result of your negligence or is it to try to make whole anyone who is injured by your mistakes, especially family and friends? Of course, you carry the insurance to protect your assets from attack in the event you are at fault in an incident, but you also carry that insurance to protect others from financial hardship and medical expenses in the event you injure them, especially friends. I find that when people understand why they carry insurance themselves, they are not as reticent to file a claim on their own behalf against a friend or family member.
Another frequent question is, “But won’t his/her premiums increase?” This is true. Often the negligent friend runs the risk of increased premiums because of her/his actions, but what about your hardship? You will have present and future medical expenses, loss of income because of time missed at work, and you may, if the injury is serious enough, have lifelong pain. Reasonable friends and family do not expect you to bear those hardships alone, not while they have a policy to cover them for such contingencies. In our modern era, antiquated thinking can lead you to a pile of medical bills and a very short bank account. If you are injured by a negligent friend, make a claim. If they are offended, they weren’t your friend in the first place.