What do you do if your spouse crashes into your car and causes you injury and damages your car? Do you whip out your checkbook to cover the damages or go after your spouse's insurance company? Well, it turns out that your state's laws have a lot to say about your course of action. Here are the three major ways in which states handle this issue:
In many states, you are not allowed to sue your partner if his or her negligence causes you injury. The rationale behind this rule is that suing your spouse is tantamount to suing your insurance company, since a married couple is considered an entity. This cannot be allowed to happen because your insurer is there to compensate you for damages caused by other third parties.
What is more, some insurance companies have terms and conditions that expressly prohibit such claims. Allowing partners to sue each other can encourage fraud. For example, you can crash into your spouse's car, inflate your damages, collect the money and enjoy it as a family.
At the other end of the scale, there are states that allow you to sue a spouse that causes your car accident. Just like in any other personal injury, you will need to prove that:
- Your spouse was negligent
- His or her negligence caused the accident
- You were injured in the accident
In addition, expect a high-level of scrutiny from the insurance company, because it will do its best to unearth any form of fraud on your part.
Lawsuit – With a Caveat
In yet other states, you will only be allowed to proceed with the lawsuit if you have an extra coverage known as Supplemental Spousal Liability insurance. This coverage is specifically targeted at married couples who wish to be covered in case one of them injures the other one in an accident. Note that this is an optional coverage that will only be added to your policy, for a small premium, if you request it.
These are the three general ways in which states regulate personal injury claims by spouses against spouses. Note that all the other laws and regulations governing these cases will still apply. For example, you will still need to prove negligence and link your injuries to the specific accident. Also, there may be limits, as well as other terms and conditions, from the relevant insurance company that may impact your case. For more information about personal injury law, contact Dallas Laird.