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Ask Barrister Your Own Question
Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 33802
Experience:  15 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 26 yrs
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I am the executrix mother's estate. She owned a large

Customer Question

I am the executrix for my mother's estate. She owned a large number of rental properties at her death. During the year directly after her death, her estate was sued by the neighbor of one of her tenants. The neighbor claimed that his two year old daughter lost the sight in one of her eyes (a fact) because the tenants dog charged a window that the girl was outside of, and broke the window(many versions, one including the little girl had been banging on the window with her toy rake and broke the glass herself), sending shards of glass everywhere, including the girls eye. In any event, an unfortunate accident. However, three years later and there is no end in sight to this lawsuit and no idea of when it might settle or how it might settle. The estate is represented by the insurance company attorneys, and the parents of the young girl have their own attorney. My question...as executrix of the estate, or as an heir to the estate, can I bring a lawsuit against the girls family to 'force their hand.' I believe that the insurance company is not settling because everyone is aware of the possible misrepresentation of the family who is suing. I believe the estate has suffered significant financial loss because we are not able to settle the estate with this pending lawsuit. I also firmly believe this is a lawsuit based on deep pockets, where the tenants have no insurance or no money, so someone is going to pay, and it's the landlord. I believe the whole story of how the little girl was injured is fabricated, based on a first report I heard three years ago.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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""My question...as executrix of the estate, or as an heir to the estate, can I bring a lawsuit against the girls family to 'force their hand.'""
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I realize that this is frustrating, but unfortunately there is no way to force the case to move along faster if the insurance company attorneys are representing the estate. The case will grind along at its own glacial pace until one side gets tired of fighting or it actually goes to a trial where a jury will determine if the estate is at fault or not.
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But from a legal perspective, if it was the tenant's dog who allegedly caused the injury, and there was nothing negligent or defective with the window, then it would be the tenant who would be liable for any injury, not the landlord. So it is likely that the attorneys for the estate are willing to hold out because there shouldn't be any liability on the landlord at all and the only reason they are trying to sue is your "deep pockets" theory.
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thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the information. If I can't force this to move along, do I have any legal stand at any point (let's say after the suit is settled) if it turns out that there are lies that were told regarding how the girl was injured...in other words, people finally step forward and tell the truth...that the little girl, herself, was responsible for the broken window (there was a police report filed at the emergency room because the hospital personnel called the police on a possible child neglect situation). I guess I am confused as to why someone who is not telling the truth can drag us all through this with their lies. Why can't I sue them for this if I can prove they have cost the estate money for their lies
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
You can sue them for "malicious prosecution" if it turns out that the child or parents lied about this and it was entirely frivolous from the beginning.
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But you would have to prove damages in monetary form and if the insurance company is paying the attorneys, then money damages might be hard to prove because the court won't award "speculative" damages (i.e. I could have invested in stock X and it went up 50%). So you would have to prove actual damages to recover against them.
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Further, they may not have any assets to begin with and their attorney is on contingency. So even if you sued and won, you might not be able to realistically collect.
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thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your information. I understand. Just an all around unfortunate toss of the die.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
You are very welcome. Glad to help even if the news wasn't very encouraging..
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You are in the unfortunate position of "hurry up and wait" but based on your comments, I don't see much of a case against the estate..
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thanks
Barrister