Can I sue my brother-in-law’s homeowner’s insurer for pain and suffering?

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Can I sue my brother-in-law’s homeowner’s insurer for pain and suffering?

My daughter was bit by my brother and sister in-law’s dog on the upper lip at their home. She was unsupervised at the time. I was not at the home at the time of the incident either. My daughter was rushed to the ER and a plastic surgeon was called to repair her lip in the operating room. This called for an anesthesiologist. She required somewhere between 20 and 30 stiches. The suture removal also required another trip to the operating room with the plastic

surgreon and the anesthesiologist. My husband believes that our brother-in-law’s insurance will cover the medical bills. I am wondering if we can also file a claim for pain and suffering?

Asked on August 9, 2016 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) You don't--that is, you *can't*--sue someone else's insurer; that other person's insurer has no obligation or duty directly to you, and so you have no grounds to sue them. Their duty is to their insured, to defend the insured in court and pay if the insured is order to pay (or to settle the case on beneficial terms). The insured (i.e. your brother in law) can sue his insurer if the insurer doesn't reimburse, pay for, etc. him when they are supposed to--but you can't. You have to sue your brother-in-law, and to get money from him (which his insurer *may* pay, if under the terms of the policy they have to pay in a case like) you will have to prove in court that he or his wife were neglient, or unreasonably careless, and so contributed to or caused your daughter's injury. Obviously, this sort of lawsuit can have an effect on your family relations.
2) You can and probably should, if you want to go this route, first ask your brother-in-law to submit a claim to his insurer for you, and they may agree to voluntarily pay--but again, if they don't, you'll have to sue your brother- and sister-in-law.
3) Yes, pain and suffering is something that can be sued for in a case like this.


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