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A one-car accident in Auburn highlighted a recurring issue. When is it okay to sue a friend?

A story last week described an accident where a car tumbled 20 feet down an embankment.

Two women and one man in their 20’s suffered multiple traumatic injuries in a single-vehicle accident in the 5200 block of Kersey Way Southeast in Auburn the evening of Tuesday, March 3.

Sometimes one-car accidents are the result of a malfunction (e.g., the sticking Toyota accelerator pedals) or a poorly designed or maintained road. But usually they’re caused by driver error. If that’s the case here, the passengers have claims against the driver.

Because passengers are typically friends or relatives there can be some (initial) reluctance about making a claim. Passengers ask: Are we making a claim against my friend or against her insurance company?

Initially, the claim will be presented to the drivers’ insurance company. If the driver’s insurance carrier doesn’t take responsibility and make a fair offer to settle the case, the next step is filing suit. In Washington the driver responsible for the accident (rather than his or her insurer) has to be sued.

So, looping back around, it’s going to be necessary to sue a friend or family member if you’re injured in a one-car accident. But here’s the rub: your friend or relative purchased insurance to cover a situation where someone else was hurt as a result of their negligence. Not filing suit is not helping anyone other than the insurance company. And frankly, who wants to do that?


  1. Does the Insurance company hide , like they are allowed to in Minnesota? Next door in Wisconsin, and in many states they are out in the open. Here they get to fight the case, hire the lawyer, call all the shots and infer the idea that "what kind of person would sue their friend". We can't tell the jury the truth.

  2. Gravatar for Michael Myers

    Unfortunately insurers in Washington get to hide behind their insureds. We cannot maintain a direct action against an insurance company for an accident unless it involves a common carrier (bus, train, etc.).

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