Personal Injury Attorney Ben Schwartz answers a viewer’s question on whether she should sue her mother if she was injured in a car accident and her mother was the at-fault driver.
Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,
Today we’re going to answer a question from Josephine in Baltimore, Maryland. Josephine wrote-in, she said essentially, she was in a car accident. Her mother was driving, checking her text messages and ran off the road and caused the crash. Josephine was injured and went to an attorney. The attorney said if you want to get a settlement you’ve got to be prepared to sue your own mother. Josephine wants to know what you think about that. I will tell you what I think about that; I think it’s a shame. You know, I have a lot of empathy for people who have been injured in an auto accident due to the negligence of another individual whether it’s your mother or a stranger, family member, or someone you’ve never met before.
I have a lot of empathy if you’ve got medical bills that you’re trying to get paid or you’ve got lost wages. Maybe you’re unable to pay your rent, maybe you’re unable to pay your mortgage, or your car payment, or put food on the table. If you’re out of work after a serious car accident, I have a lot of empathy for you if you’re in that situation. I have a lot of empathy for you if you’re in this situation where the at-fault driver is a family member or a close friend or your mother. Josephine, I think it’s a terrible situation to be in, but at the same time, it’s an interesting question because it illustrates the difference between form and substance.
Oftentimes in the law, there is a difference between form and substance & here’s what I mean by that. In form, if you’re going to pursue a claim for your injuries, in form, you’ve got to file a lawsuit and you’re going to name the at-fault driver. The lawsuit is against the at-fault driver in this situation and unfortunately, the at-fault driver is your mother. So, it sounds terrible, it looks terrible, you know, it’s embarrassing I’m sure. But if you’re going to pursue this in form, you are suing your mother. In substance however, that’s not what this is. If your mother had insurance on the vehicle, what you’re doing is you’re really making an insurance claim. Because your mother’s insurance company is going to pay whatever settlement you get if you go to trial and a jury awards you damages, or a judge awards you damages. Then the insurance company is paying for that award.
Should I Sue My Mother If I Was Injured In A Car Accident and She Was At-fault?
If you file a lawsuit and your mother has to be represented by an attorney, her insurance company is providing her with a free attorney. So you see, in substance you’re not really going against your mother. In substance, you’re going against your mother’s insurance company. In form, however, you’re going against your mother, so there’s a difference.
Of course, the folks at the insurance company are very happy about this. When we, in my legal practice handling cases for people who have been injured in accidents, when we contact the insurance company and ask them to pay for things like medical bills and lost wages and compensation for pain and suffering when the form of the case is that our client would have to sue a family member they chuckle at us. They take advantage of people by trying to eliminate settlements, by trying to deny settlements or reduce what is paid in many cases. So this is really something that benefits the insurance companies. Whether that is fair or unfair, I’ll let you make up your own mind.
I’m interested to know, if you are watching this video, if you’ve now heard about Josephine’s situation, I’m telling you as a personal injury attorney, this is a situation that comes up quite often. What would you advise Josephine to do? Would you sue your own mother is what I’m really trying to ask.
Please leave us a comment & let us know how you feel about this situation. Let us know what your analysis is. I do these videos and I ask people to leave comments and sometimes we get some of the best comments. We get some of the most insightful comments. So, if you have a thought or an opinion on this, leave a comment on the video and let us know what your view is.
Folks I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz, thanks for watching this video. Hopefully, you found it to be informative or something interesting to think about. If you have questions for me like this, please feel free to send me an email. Thanks for watching!