You are a passenger in your girlfriend’s car. She somehow becomes distracted and rams into a poll. She is fine. But you end up with a fractured ankle. Everyone is telling you to sue your friend. But you are not one of those “suit-happy” individuals.. and, after all, she’s your friend. How can you even think of taking her to court!
Let me start by clearing up a major misconception. Your friend has car insurance in the event she injures someone with her car. You would not be “suing” her but making a “claim” against her insurance company. Your friend pays a hefty premium to her carrier each year. The reason she pays those premiums is to protect herself from being personally liable for her acts of negligence.
The odds are very strong that her insurance company will settle your claim. Because your injury is serious, it is always wise to contact a personal injury lawyer who can help you with the claim. You do not have to pay the lawyer any fee up front as he or she will work on a “contingency fee” basis. That means the lawyer will only get paid, from the settlement proceeds, after the claim is successfully concluded.
Yes, there is always the possibility her insurance company will play hardball and not want to settle the claim. In that case, yes, your lawyer will need to “sue” your friend. But your friend’s insurance company will provide a lawyer for her so she will not have to pay for a defense. Even after the case is “in court,” the possibility of settlement still exists, however. In fact, most cases are settled without a trial. It’s just that some insurance companies like to keep their money as long as possible before being forced to pay.
Will your friend’s insurance rates go up? The answer is undoubtedly yes. But I am sure your friend would gladly have her premium go up a few hundred dollars knowing that you have been fully compensated under her policy.
If your friend does not understand what you are doing, even after you’ve explained the process of making a claim with her insurance company, I would question her true friendship.
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