Advisable to sue for personal injury against a student with intent to pursue wage garnishment?

Asked over 1 year ago - Boston, MA

I sustained very serious personal injury & a family member / lawyer is generously handling insurance / suit against other parties, though she hasn't expressed interest in suit against a direct and prominent party responsible for my injuries. While I know that I could hire a lawyer for a suit against this offender, I'm searching for advice in view of this person being a 3rd year undergraduate student at a public Massachusetts university. I'm aware that are methods by which the offender could terminate wage garnishment (e.g. bankruptcy), so essentially I'm wondering if it would / could be reasonably within my interest to hire a personal injury lawyer in this instance. Thank you!

Additional information

Thank you for your answers. Of course this is a complicated matter that could never fit into these submission boxes, but to clarify: my attorney is family, very busy & representing me on her own time, so she hasn't offered to sue the student / offender since that person doesn't have "serious money" & we've already taken their max auto insurance ($70,000, just a fraction of medical bills). But, I will mention ideas I receive here. Thanks again, I sincerely appreciate the feedback!

Attorney answers (9)

  1. Peter V Bellotti

    Pro

    Contributor Level 3

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Attorney Roswold makes some good suggestions. You are asking some very good questions - but questions that should be posed to the attorney representing you. You should make a list of the questions that you currently have, contact your attorney and schedule a meeting with her. Once your attorney has given you an overview of the entire process you will have a better understanding of you case. Given your inquiry, below are some suggestions of questions that you might consider asking:

    - who are all the liable (responsible) parties to the accident?
    - will they all be pursued?
    - what is the insurance coverage, if any, for each vehicle involved?
    - who is responsible for paying your medical bills, your loss wages, if any, property damage to your vehicle, etc.
    - how long will the entire process take?

    Your attorney would probably appreciate knowing your concerns in advance, so emailing the questions to her will result in a more focused and substantive meeting.

    Best of luck with your case – and your recovery.

  2. James Michael Roswold

    Contributor Level 10

    9

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . There is insufficient context to know whether this individual would have insurance or would otherwise be collectible. Since you have an attorney already, and particularly because this attorney is someone you know and trust, the obvious next step is to schedule a meeting and sit down with this individual and obtain a full understanding of why the attorney is not considering pursuing this individual. Most likely there are some very compelling reasons. Generally, an
    individual does not have multiple attorneys to pursue similar cause of action involving the same underlying circumstances. Generally, this is best handled by the same attorney. In conclusion, you already have an attorney and should get your legal advice there. I am sorry to hear that you have sustained serious injuries and I wish you the best of luck!

  3. Dennis M. Lindgren

    Contributor Level 5

    7

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . Everything Attorney Roswold wrote is correct. Two attorneys representing you in a personal injury action against different parties is the proverbial too many chefs in the kitchen. I would suggest that you have a sit down with your attorney to discuss the status of your claims and why she feels that pursuing the tort feasor (i.e. the person that injured you) isn't advisable. I don't know how you were injured, but if it is an auto accident, the tort feasor might have insurance under their parent's motor vehicle insurance. In another instance, I once successfully represented a college student who was run down and seriously injured by another college student who was on his bike. In that instance, the tort feasor's parents had home owner's insurance that covered the loss and paid a settlement. In short, personal injury can be a very complex practice of law and there are many traps for the unwary. Be sure that whomever is representing you knows their stuff. Best of luck!

  4. Lars A. Lundeen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If your family member/attorney is not an attorney who deals full time with personal injury claims, you may be making a serious error. Would you hire a podiatrist to do your brain surgery? I think not.

    You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing. The Guides can be accessed through my profile page on Avvo.com.

    Legal Disclaimer:

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

    This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.
  5. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Well, hopefully your lawyer took a small fee for this small amount of work. He should also negotiate the bills down to 5-10 cents on the dollar before taking his fee.

    Only 29% Contingency Fee! Phone: 215-510-6755 www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com
  6. Christopher W. Vaughn-Martel

    Contributor Level 17

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . My advice is simple.

    You cannot go back and sue someone after the expiration of the statute of limitations. In other words, if you find out in four years that this individual has won the lottery and owns three vacation homes, you will not be able to go back and sue them.

    My advice is that if you have a viable claim of any value - and there is some indication that the defendant may have the means to pay it at some point in their life - then you should establish your claim now.

    Good luck!

    Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts.... more
  7. Robert Bruce Kopelson

    Contributor Level 20

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The other answers are good. If the person youre talking about isnt covered by insurance, and if there is enough insurance available to compensate you for your injuries, it may not be worth pursuing the uninsured individual. Sit down with your atty and ask for it all to be explained. If that doesnt satisfy you, then set up a confidential consult with another local atty to see if they analyze the matter similarly to your current atty.

  8. Jonathan Craig Reed

    Pro

    Contributor Level 16

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The other answers all assume that you have the luxury of having another attorney go after the college student to obtain a judgment against him. It is generally difficult to interest a lawyer in taking to trial on a contingency fee a party who may not have any assets and who may be able to discharge any judgment in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, almost all personal injury attorneys give free consults so it doesn't cost to ask.

  9. Joseph B Barnes III

    Contributor Level 8

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The one answer I didn't see, or saw asked in your fact pattern, is the issue of Un-insured or Under-insured motorist (UM) coverage on your own policy. Many people have insurance of 100, 300, 500k, or even a million for liability but they neglect to raise their own protection under the UM coverage of their own policies. If he only had $70K coverage and you got that, you may have additional coverage under your own policy's UM provision.
    Good lesson to all! Maintain at least as much UM coverage to protect yourself as you take to protect others from you. Common Sense and very cheap!

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