Does Suing a Friend Require Ending the Friendship?

Transcript: Hi, I’m Indiana personal injury attorney David Holub.

Does suing a friend necessarily mean the end of a friendship?

One of our most watched videos is entitled “Is It Ever Proper To Sue a Friend?”

In that video, we explain that in especially property injury cases, it’s of course anticipated that the person you might be needing to sue would be a friend or an acquaintance. Frequently, people who are hurt are hurt on the property of those they know.

Rarely do people trespass onto other people’s property. And people who have insurance buy that insurance not only to protect themselves against a judgment that would be excessive if someone were injured, but to protect the friends and relatives that come on to their property because those people are the ones who are likely to be injured coming onto the property because 90% of the time people coming onto property are those that you know.

But does suing a friend necessarily mean the end of a friendship?
The answer is no. It’s normal to be apprehensive about making a claim against someone that you know–whether they’re a friend or simply an aquaintance. Say you’re a passenger in your brother-in-law’s car and he drives like a maniac and flips the car and you’re seriously injured. What if you hire an attorney and the attorney gives notice to your brother-in-law’s insurance company and the insurance company contacts the brother-in-law. Now all of a sudden, you’ve got an irate family member wondering if you’re suing them, and will it jeopardize their finances beyond the insurance. If this is a concern of yours, are there things that you can do to avoid this type of rift in a relationship?

Sure. There are lots of things. One, you can ask your attorney to head off the potential for hard feelings by writing to the friend or relative that you may need to sue and tell them that you will only be going after their insurance or that you will not in any way attempt to take their car, their home, or other assets. Two, you can ask your attorney to call and explain the same thing to your friend or relative. Attorneys are prohibited from contacting and speaking with someone who is already represented by an attorney, but if your friend or relative is not represented by an attorney, there is no reason why your attorney can’t call and explain what your view is and how you anticipate only going after insurance.

Do these things always work to smooth over hard feelings and prevent damage to a relationship? Yeah, most of the time they do. Now sometimes I would say it’s more difficult in some situations to get through to a friend or relative what you’re only interested in doing is obtaining insurance to cover medical bills and lost time from work.

But in most cases, people are understanding if it’s explained to them and they’re approached in the right way. If you’re looking for a firm that puts your legal interests first, but also will work with you to preserve important relationships with friends and family, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700.

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