Should I File a Car Accident Claim Against a Family Member or Friend?
Summary: While it's natural to want to file a claim against a negligent stranger or company, you may feel hesitant to file a claim against someone you know or love. It's important for both sides to understand that an injury claim is not personal and it's made only in the interest of fairness.
Should I File a Car Accident Claim Against a Family Member or Friend? When you're injured as a passenger in a car accident, there are numerous people you may be able to hold liable and seek compensation from. That could be the driver in another car, their employer, a manufacturer or mechanic, a government entity responsible for maintaining roads or even a bar or restaurant if they overserved a customer who then caused your crash. While it's natural to want to file a claim against a negligent stranger or company, you may feel hesitant to file a claim against someone you know or love. It's important for both sides to understand that an injury claim is not personal and it's made only in the interest of fairness.
If you were injured as the passenger in a motor vehicle accident, find out how much your claim may be worth by using a free personal injury calculator.
Should I File a Car Accident Claim Against a Friend?
It's important to remember that filing an injury claim is not the same as "suing" your friend. You are merely making a demand for fair compensation from the insurance company they have been paying into. This is the reason your friend or family member has insurance.
- $25,000 minimum coverage for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 minimum coverage for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 (Missouri)/$20,000 (Illinois) minimum coverage for property damage
Assuming your friend or family member is following the rules, they will have enough coverage to compensate you for your injuries. If your damages exceed their policy limits, a personal injury lawyer can help you file an underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company.
It's important to remember that failing to report an accident that results in injury is a crime in both Missouri and Illinois, and could lead to fines, a suspended license or even jail time. If you've been injured in an accident, always file a report even if the driver is asking you not to.
Why Should I File a Car Accident Claim Against My Friend or Family Member?
On average, after an at-fault bodily injury accident auto insurance premiums go up $530 per year in Missouri and $288 per year in Illinois. That means your friend or family member's insurance payment will go up about $24 a month in Illinois and $44 a month in Missouri. Those premiums will go down substantially each year that they don't cause another accident.
Contrast that with the costs of being injured in a car accident. The average wage in Missouri is $24. That means that the average Missouri worker would lose out on $2,880 for just three weeks of lost wages. An ambulance, if you need one, costs around $1,000 and the average cost of an ER visit is $1,746 for moderate severe injuries and as much as $7,748 for severe injuries. Say you need four chiropractic or physical therapy appointments, that would be another $200 at a moderate estimate of $50 a session. Additionally, the claims system is also mental to compensate you for your pain and suffering and inconvenience.
Add it all up, and even a moderate injury such as whiplash or a herniated disc that doesn't require surgery or a prolonged hospital stay could cost you $5,746 and economic losses, and at the very least another $2,973 in noneconomic damages (read more about how pain and suffering is calculated here). That adds up to $718.25 a month over a 12-month period, or a 2,892% increase over your friend's monthly car insurance payments in Missouri, or a 1,532% increase in Illinois. And that's just for a minor injury. If your injury resulted in months off work and extensive medical care, your damages could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What matters more, a short, reasonable increase in your friend or family member's insurance premium? Or you getting the financial recovery you deserve and that you need to get full medical treatment and truly heal?
What if the Driver I Was Riding With Was Only Partially at Fault?
If your friend or family member is partially at fault for the accident, you still need to a file a claim against their insurance company. Both Missouri and Illinois are comparative negligence states. That means each party compensates you for the percentage of fault they share for the accident. So even if the other driver was 70% at fault, you would be missing out on 30% of your compensation by not filing a claim against your friend. Always consult with a car accident lawyer for an accident involving multiple liable parties.
What to Do If Your Child is Injured While Riding With Someone Else?
If your child was riding in the car with a friend or family member and an accident occurred, the same principles apply. We have insurance to protect not only ourselves, but the people we care about. The other driver should be more than OK with cooperating with their insurance company to make sure your child gets the treatment they need.
While agreeing not to file a claim may make you a good friend or a nice cousin, it's not at all fair to you. If you're being pressured not to make a claim, calmly tell the driver of the car you were in that you understand they don't want an insurance hike, but that your damages far outweigh theirs and it's only right for you to be repaid for your injuries. You're not being selfish, you're just being fair. A good friend will understand and won't make it personal.
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