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What to do in accidents caused by relatives or friends

Cases involving accidental personal injuries caused by friends or family are inevitably highly sensitive. You might be afraid to seek compensation because you don’t want to damage familial bonds or create unnecessary hardships for your loved ones. However, you do not need to file a lawsuit against your family member or friend to receive compensation commensurate with your injuries. Alternatively, you can file a third-party claim with your loved one’s insurance company to protect them from out-of-pocket expenses.

What information should you collect to strengthen your personal injury claim?

Approach your claim with the same level of diligence as you would if your injury was caused by a stranger. Collecting evidence is not an indictment of your loved one- it is key to maximize your compensation. To calm any uneasiness, remind them insurance companies require exhaustive documentation and exist to protect the insured and their loved ones from the financial burden of unexpected property damage or medical care.

Your records should include: medical bills and treatment records, prescriptions, photos of injuries and property damage, police statements, documentation of wages lost, and any correspondence with the insurance adjuster or insured.

Which type of insurance should I file my third-party claim with?

Depending on the type of personal injury, you’ll probably file with your loved one’s auto, homeowners, or renters’ insurance. Auto insurance will cover injuries related to motor vehicle accidents, while homeowners and renters’ insurance offer liability coverage for accidents occurring on the owner’s premises, such as slip-and-falls or dog bites. Property insurance may also cover injuries sustained off property that are not covered by auto insurance. Speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to learn if your policy covers such an event.

While California drivers are legally required to obtain Financial Responsibility (or insurance) to cover their motor vehicle, California does not require homeowners or renters’ insurance. However, if your family member has an outstanding mortgage, chances are the lender would require homeowners’ insurance to protect their investment.

Do I need to hire a lawyer?

Insurance adjusters are not looking for evidence to conclude the strength of your case. They are looking for any reason to deny or minimize your settlement. While you can file a claim yourself, an experienced personal injury lawyer is aware of the insurance companies’ tactics and can maximize the settlement recovered. You might be afraid of arousing hostility from your loved one, but just remind them hiring a lawyer is not a personal attack; rather, an attorney is an advocate who defends your right to collect from the insurance company.

If you’ve been injured by a family member or friend and would like to spare them financial hardship, please contact Crane Flores, LLP anytime, day or night, at (805) 628-4967.