Neighbor's insurance won't give a fair release document?

by Deborah
(Land O Lakes, FL, USA)

Our HOA has a rule not allowing any vehicle to block the sidewalk or apron of their driveway. My neighbor's big SUV was parked at the end of their driveway, blocking the sidewalk. I was walking with my husband one evening and we had to walk around my neighbor's SUV, which was blocking the sidewalk.

Since they had been pulling up all their sod that day, their sprinkler heads were sticking up. I didn't see that as I walked around their SUV, and tripped on a sprinkler head, falling on their driveway behind their SUV.

The injury to the right side of my head and eye was serious and there was so much blood running into my eye that I could not see. My husband ran back home to get his car so he could drive me to the emergency room at the hospital near our neighborhood. I sat on the neighbor's driveway for a few minutes waiting for my husband.

The neighbors came over to see me and said they were sorry. They gave me some tissues and a little bag of ice. Then my husband arrived and we went to the hospital. I filed a claim to pay my medical expenses with the neighbor's homeowner's insurance company.

After one year of investigation, they have agreed to pay for my medical expenses incurred, and a few days of lost wages. The amount they agreed to is $7,000. Then they sent over a Release saying that I needed to sign and return the release to them before I could expect a check in 5 to 7 business days.

The release is unacceptable as it contains language that makes me agree to indemnify and hold harmless my neighbors against any other costs they may incur due to the accident. Since I will not agree to be responsible for their costs, we are at a standstill.

I am considering filing a complaint against the insurance company since they won't produce a reasonable release document. How can I get them to change the language in their release document? Is there anything else I can do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Neighbor's insurance won't give a fair release document?":

Deborah (Land O Lakes, FL, USA):

You might consider not pursuing an injury claim against the homeowners insurance company, but instead against the neighbors themselves. This is true especially because homeowners insurance often does not pay compensation for the pain and suffering of an injured victim.

It appears the neighbors may have been negligent not only in the improper parking of their SUV, but also by leaving the sprinkler heads in a position which might result in injuries to passersby.

While your injury was unfortunate, it doesn't appear you incurred medical expenses more than $7,000. Moreover, whatever injuries you had do not seem to have been permanent.

In a personal injury claim against the neighbors, you have the right to pursue them for your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for medications, bandages, costs of travel to and from treatment, etc.), lost wages, and pain and suffering. You also have a right to pursue them for loss of consortium (if applicable).

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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