Is it “bad” to sue your neighbor?
We occasionally hear from clients after being injured in an accident on a friend or neighbor’s property – sometimes even a family member’s property – that they were hesitant to seek compensation for their injuries. They told us they felt guilty, or they felt it would be wrong to seek compensation against someone they knew.
We want to clear up any confusion around this subject and discuss options.
First, accidents that occur on another’s property are called “Premises Liability” cases – with premises liability being a legal term used to describe a situation whereby an individual becomes hurt or injured in an accident on someone else’s property as a result of a dangerous, unsafe, or hazardous condition of the property. Premises liability cases can include slip and falls, staircase collapses, fires, electric shocks, dog bites, or animal attacks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 800,000 people a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury. Compounding matters, less than half tell their doctor or take any action.
If you don’t want to sue your friend or neighbor, you can file a claim with their homeowner’s insurance. It’s important to know that filing a claim against someone’s homeowner’s insurance means that your friend or neighbor isn’t the one covering the costs. Instead, it falls to their insurance company to pay for any awarded damages. That’s the purpose of insurance. That’s what insurance is there for.
First and foremost, the most important thing to do with any injury is to seek appropriate medical treatment – being mindful that, sometimes, symptoms of a fall aren’t immediately apparent.
Be mindful, too, on the amount of time, or manner of delay, between the date of the accident and the date medical care is sought (also called “the gap in treatment”) as these can greatly impact your claim. [See our previous article on Gaps in Treatment here]
While each case is unique, if you have been injured on another’s property there is certainly the potential that you are due compensation. It is a simple and straightforward legal matter that involves the defendant’s insurance company. So, it does not matter if the person responsible for causing you pain and suffering is your friend or colleague. He/she will not be paying the expenses out of his pocket; his insurance carrier will do so.
No matter what the circumstance might be, we always recommend talking with a good personal injury attorney who will present your case for you and help you claim the maximum compensation possible.