What do you do if you are hurt in an accident, and it turns out that the negligent party is a close family member? While there is no law against suing family members for damages, consider these three issues before pursuing such a case:
Whether the Insurer Will Pay
One of the first things you should consider is whether the family member's insurance company will cover the lawsuit. This isn't a given for some close family members. For example, some insurance policies include what is called the household exclusion clause, which prohibits claims against family members.
For example, some auto insurance companies argue that suing a member of your household is like suing yourself since your household members are also covered by your policy. If you confirm that the insurer won't cover the lawsuit, then you have to decide whether you are willing to pursue the lawsuit anyway and target the family member's personal assets.
The Domino Effect on Your Family
You should also consider how the lawsuit will affect the rest of your family members. This is especially important if the family member you are suing doesn't have insurance or has a low insurance limit, and you are planning to go after their private assets (for example through wage garnishment) to pay for your damages.
For example, if you are suing your uncle, remember that your uncle's spouses, as well as your nieces and nephews, may also be hurt when your uncle's finances suffer a blow. If that happens in a serious way, other family members (such as your uncle's siblings or your grandparents) may have to chip in to help the family get back on their feet. In short, consider the domino effect before suing a close family member.
The Relationship Payout
It's not just your family's finances that may suffer if you sue a family member, even the emotional ties may take a hit. Obviously, the person you want to sue is the one who will be the most hurt, but they won't be the only one. Many families have members who feel that family issues should be resolved internally; taking your issue to the public court will not endear you to them. You may end up becoming the subject of family gatherings for many years (don't be like cousin Joe who sued uncle Tim), and you may even stop attending some of them.
This is one of the situations where you shouldn't take any step without consulting an injury lawyer from a firm like Prediletto, Halpin, Scharnikow & Nelson, P.S. An injury lawyer's job is much more than handling litigations. For example, the lawyer can help you negotiate with your family member for an out-of-court settlement that is legally binding and acceptable to both of you.