If my wife fell at a friend’s lake house and broke her arm, should I contact an attorney or ask his insurance company for pain and suffering?

It has been 7 weeks and she is going for a second opinion next week. At her last visit to the doctor he said it was not heeling as well as expected. Now we are thinking that there is additional damage to the shoulder. She has been sleeping in recliner and cannot sleep in bed. We have not had marital relations during that time. If I do sue, am I suing my friend or his insurance company?

Asked on September 4, 2014 under Personal Injury, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Why would you sue--what did your friend do wrong? A property owner is not responsible to pay for his or her guests' injuries simply because the guest was injured on the homeowner's property. Rather, there must be fault, such as having an unreasonably dangerous condition  which the homeowner was, or normally should have been, aware of. So, say that the stair rail at the friend's house was loose or rotten, and the friend knew or should have known it (because it was so obvious or visible)--if that's why your wife fell, the friend may be liable. But if your wife fell through no fault of your friend, your friend would not be responsible for her injuries.

If you do think there are grounds to hold your friend liable, you could ask him to put a claim into the insurer--but he does not have to; and even if he does, they may not pay. If you don't receive compensation voluntarily from the friend or his insurer, the only way to force them to pay is to sue your friend (not his insurer; you sue him, then the insurer should step in to defend and indemnify) in court and win.


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