Who Is Likely to Sue Me?Oct 29, 2020 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson
At any given time, Ostrander Insurance represents a handful of clients who are being sued. From auto accident, to accidents at home and everything in between, the list of “defendants” expands and contracts as suit papers are filed and settlements are reached. In the meantime, our clients who are under the cloud of an active suit are generally worried and fearful about their future. And who can blame them?
Every MA auto policy includes a minimum of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident for optional bodily injury coverage (OBI), which means anyone you hurt will be entitled to at least $20,000, with no more than $40,000 being paid to multiple claimants. If you have any assets at all or want to enjoy some peace of mind, you should definitely consider limits of at least $250,000-$500,000 OBI. If you have a homeowner policy, it should include at least $100,000 in liability coverage, but you’d do well to take that up to $500,000 for short money because you never know when you might need it, as I’ll now explain.
One of our homeowner clients hosted a high school graduation party a few years back and there was a keg on the premises. Parents and graduates were apparently left to manage themselves, which seemed like a good idea until a lone-wolf graduate who wasn’t invited drove to the party already drunk, had one beer and jumped back into his truck only to suffer a fatal crash moments later. Everyone in attendance knew the boy was intoxicated before he arrived at the gathering, but that didn’t stop the deceased parents of the boy from suing the host and hostess of the party.
Dogs may be man’s best friend and we certainly love our office dog, Sophie, but when doggie bites the neighbor’s child in the face, which happened to one of our dog-owning clients several years ago, tragedy struck. Our homeowner client had $300,000 in coverage, and all of it was paid to the injured child’s family and their attorney. Their normally good dog, a Labrador, snapped at the neighbor boy’s face when two best-friend young boys were goofing around together.
In two other cases—one of which is still pending—we had our clients sued by local police officers. You read that correctly. Police officers can and actually will sue you if they suffer any apparent injury in the course of interacting with you or your family members. This might include taking a suspect into custody, for example. It’s the liability coverage on your HO policy they want to tap into.
The list goes on, and all you can do is be careful, look both ways and keep your liability limits up to the limit at which you’re most comfortable.