If You’re Hurt Due to the Fault of a Family Member

Family or Friends as the At-Fault Driver in Car Accident Cases

Sometimes life is way more complicated than we want it to be.  For example, a situation that we deal with as personal injury attorneys presents some difficult questions for our clients.  What happens when there’s a serious injury, but the driver who caused the accident is a family member?  Maybe the at-fault driver is a spouse, a parent, or a teenage child.

The same situation can arise where the at-fault driver isn’t a family member, but a friend. The question that troubles folks in this situation is, “does this mean I have to sue my family member?” It’s a real concern that may prevent someone from talking to a personal injury lawyer about their options. They think if they hire a lawyer, that means a lawsuit.  And they don’t want to sue a family member.

Fortunately, the answer is no, you don’t have to sue your family member to be compensated for your injuries. You are entitled to be compensated by that person’s auto insurance, or yours, if you’re the owner of the vehicle. Potential clients are relieved to learn this important piece of information.

Our Approach to Personal Injury Claims

Most personal injury claims—at least 75% of the cases we handle—are settled without filing a lawsuit.  We don’t start representing a client by filing a lawsuit, and every reasonable attempt is made to settle the claim without one. Always.

We begin by getting all the facts, gathering medical records, making sure that medical bills get paid with all available coverage, documenting wage loss, and determining whether the injuries will have any permanent effects.  Once we have all the important information, we evaluate a claim to determine a fair settlement amount.

What’s a fair settlement is based on the nature and severity of the injuries, our decades of experience on similar claims, and arbitration and jury awards throughout the state.

After the claim is fully documented, a comprehensive settlement package of information is sent to the auto liability insurance company.  Most of the time, about three out of four times, our clients’ claims are settled through negotiations without having to file a lawsuit.

We always remind clients that they bought and paid for insurance to cover just this situation.  Their right to be fairly compensated for their injuries is the same whether the driver is a stranger, a family member or a friend.

Some people think that they will be treated fairly because it’s their own insurance company that’s involved.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  Once a claim is made, it goes to the insurance adjusters, who don’t care whether you’re insured with that company or not.  Insurance companies treat all claimants the same, whether they’ve been insured with that company for 20 years or 20 days.  It makes no difference to them.

Assurance and Support from our Yakima Car Accident Attorneys

I assure clients that making a claim against insurance won’t mean any of the settlement comes out of the pocket of the at-fault driver.  Settlements are paid by the insurance company, not the driver.

Sometimes we disagree with the insurance company about how much compensation our client should be paid.  In that situation, we sit down with our client and review the options.  Whether to accept the final offer, or file suit, is always decided by the client, not us.  It’s our job to give the client all the information they need to make an informed decision.  It’s the client’s job to make the decision.  If suit is filed, the insurance company hires and pays for a lawyer to represent the at-fault driver.

We hope it never happens, but if you or a family member is injured due to the fault of a family member or friend, talk to us.  Once we’ve gone over your options, you’ll know what to do.  There’s no cost to consult with Abeyta Nelson, and  you’ll never pay a fee unless we recover compensation for you.

-blog written by attorney Terry P. Abeyta, Abeyta Nelson Injury Law

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