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You go to Uncle Joe's house every Fourth of July for an Independence Day celebration to remember all year. But what if something goes wrong one year and people get hurt lighting fireworks or swimming in the pool?
As your clan expands and more people join the celebrations, the likelihood of injury and accidents increase. Here are some things to consider before you sue Uncle Joe for personal injury and pretty much guarantee that you'll never attend one of his events again.
Family members can and do sue each other all the time, so it's fine if you decide to file suit against relatives for personal injury because you need help with medical expenses and other costs. But there are certainly some added practical and emotional considerations when you turn family matters into legal matters.
First, the practical issues. If you sue your uncle, can you recover anything? Does this man have money, insurance coverage, or hidden assets only the family knows about?
Now, let's get emotional. Assuming you sue and collect money, can you calculate consequences for the family as a whole? Will you end up putting your cousins in jeopardy or anyone else? Since you are family, chances are that problems can come around to haunt you, too. Apart from money problems, the legal dispute will spawn many difficult conversations for the whole clan and possibly cause permanent rifts.
In light of the fact that families, even ones that are not very close, do rely on the strength of all members, it may well be that the best way to address an injury is with settlement. Maybe your uncle pays medical bills and everyone avoids legal fees. Or maybe your insurer will force you to sue your uncle, as happened to a woman who was injured at her sister's home in Connecticut when her nephew hugged her too effusively.
Consult With Counsel
If you are injured, by a family member or anyone else, speak to a lawyer. Tell your story and find out your options. There may be a few resolutions. Many lawyers consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your situation.