What Happens When At-Fault Party Is a Friend?

One of the most difficult types of accident cases to pursue is when the party who is at fault or liable for the accident is a friend or family member. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you would think. Let’s look at the following example:

Dave and Amanda are hosting a party at their home. Their good friend Brenda is attending the party. As Brenda is walking up the stairs, her shoe gets caught on a loose tread on one of the steps and she takes a horrible fall down the stairs. She sustains significant fractures which result in thousands of dollars in medical expenses, including surgery, hospital stays, physical therapy, and medications. She is also unable to work during the recovery period.

Even though Brenda is a close friend of the party hosts, she should still file a claim for all the financial losses her injuries have caused her to suffer. The claim is filed against Dave and Amanda’s homeowner’s insurance. Banks and mortgage companies require customers to carry homeowner’s insurance when they are still paying off their mortgage. In the event the property owner has paid off the home and fails to carry mortgage insurance, a Virginia premises liability attorney can evaluate what other options there are for financial compensation.

If you have been injured at a friend’s home, you will want to report the incident to the property owner’s insurance company as soon as you are able. If a victim waits too long to report an accident, it may give the insurance company ammunition to fight or deny the claim.

Hopefully, the owner of the property will readily give the victim the information they need about their insurance policy to file the claim. Unfortunately, even friends can be reluctant to have a claim filed against their policy. They may worry that their insurance premiums will increase because of the claim. If the issue becomes acrimonious, the victim may have no choice but to file a lawsuit to obtain that information. A Virginia injury attorney can help advise what the appropriate legal options are in this situation.

Negligence and Liability

Even if the homeowner readily agrees to give the victim their insurance information and agrees that the victim has a valid claim, the insurance company can still deny the claim. The burden is on the victim to prove that there was some type of negligence on the property owner’s part and therefore they are liable for the losses the victim suffered as a result of their injuries.

In the example used above, prior to Brenda tripping on a loose stair tread and falling down the stairs, Dave and Amanda should have realized that the tread was loose and repaired it. However, the insurance company may try to shift blame onto Brenda, such as by questioning how much she had to drink at the party and insinuating that she fell because she was drunk. This is why even if you think there will be no issues with your claim, you should always consult with a personal injury attorney before speaking with the insurance company.

Contact a Virginia Accident Attorney for More Information

Premises liability cases can be difficult to prove without the legal expertise of a Virginia premises liability attorney. These cases can be complex and failure to provide sufficient evidence could result in a dismissal of the case by the court or a ruling in favor of the defendant (property owner).

At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, our legal team will provide a free case evaluation to determine what legal options you may have and how to proceed. Call our office today to find out how we can help get you the financial compensation you deserve.