Avoiding Hard Feelings When Pursuing Money For An Accident From Family Members

Posted on: 25 May 2016

Trying to collect compensation for damages stemming from an auto accident with a stranger can be stressful, but things can become infinitely more complex if you were involved in a car crash with a family member. If the insurance company doesn't pay all your losses or denies your claim, you may need to collect the cash directly from your loved one. Here are three tips for minimizing the hard feelings that may develop when trying to get your family member to compensate you for an auto accident.

Show Them Your Damages and Losses

One thing that can cause a wedge to come between you and your family member is if the person feels you are taking advantage of him or her. This may not be an issue if you only experienced property damage in the accident, because a dented vehicle is a concrete thing that's easy to understand. Even bodily injuries such as broken arms and legs are generally simple to grasp. However, your family may balk at paying for intangible items such as pain and suffering or loss of consortium with your spouse.

Doing what you can to help your family member clearly understand your damages and losses can reduce some of the antagonism the person may feel at being made to pay for something he or she thinks isn't real or relevant. For instance, you can discuss the ongoing medical issues you have as a result of the accident. If you sustained brain damage, detailing the migraines you've suffered could give them a sense of the suffering you're going through and they may be more amenable to paying for the pain and suffering you're asking for.

Be Sympathetic to Their Financial Situation

According to a survey conducted by Bankrate, only 37 percent of Americans have enough money in their savings account to pay for a $500 or $1,000 emergency. Chances are good that your family member just doesn't have the cash on hand to pay your expenses. If you know the individual is experiencing financial difficulties or is firmly entrenched in the low-income section of the salary spectrum, then showing some compassion and working with them can go a long way towards saving the relationship.

Work out a payment plan that fits the person's budget but also gets your expenses paid before the statute of limitations runs out. States limits the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. In California, for instance, you have two years to sue to collect money for an auto accident. If you miss the time limit, you may not be able to take legal action against your family member if the situation comes to that. Therefore, you want to make sure the money is paid in full before that limit passes.

Additionally, be certain to have a contract drawn up detailing the terms of the payment arrangement. Not only will this ensure you both are clear about your mutual responsibilities, but the contract may provide you with more time to sue if your family member breaches the terms of the agreement.

Try Mediation

No matter how hard you try, discussing money issues with your family member may get to a point where you can't come to an agreement and your relationship begins to suffer as a result. One option is to have a third party mediate the conflict. Professional mediators specialize in helping opposing parties work through the issues that are preventing them from moving forward so they can resolve the overarching problem to their mutual satisfaction.

The primary benefit of using a mediator is you still have the option of suing in court if you can't come to an agreement or your family member violates the terms of the agreement down the road. Additionally, having a neutral third party who can provide some insight into the issues may help the two of you consider aspects of the other person's situation that you may not have noticed before. This can make negotiations go a lot easier.

For more tips on protecting your relationship with a family member while collecting compensation for an accident or to file a lawsuit against the liable party, contact an auto accident attorney.


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