If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania caused by your spouse, I can predict that bringing an insurance claim or lawsuit against your spouse will not be the first thought running through your head. In fact, the thought might never cross your mind. Nevertheless, the car insurance policy your spouse purchased and paid for is designed to protect him or her from all legal claims, even claims from a spouse or other family member.
In Pennsylvania, there is no such thing as Spousal Immunity in car accident cases or a special law or insurance exclusion prohibiting car accident injury claims between spouses. In reality, you’d be surprised to learn how often in my car accident and personal injury practice that I’ve had to advise one spouse about her or her legal claims against the other after a car crash.
The scenario is all too common. Spouses are riding in the car, with one as driver and the other as passenger when something goes wrong. The driving spouse causes a rear end accident, or runs a red light or stop sign, or is distracted while texting and causes a collision. The passenger spouse is injured and needs medical treatment. The injured passenger loses wages, incurs out-of-pocket expenses, suffers from pain and a restriction of activities.
Although it may seem a bit awkward, the passenger spouse has a legal claim against the driver spouse and really should consult with a car accident lawyer to learn his or her legal rights. In Pennsylvania, an insurance claim can be brought for fair compensation to make up for medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering and disability. The insurance company for the driver spouse has an obligation to fairly evaluate and pay the claim up to the amount of liability coverage.
In the spouse versus spouse cases I’ve handled, it takes a while for each spouse to understand that this is by no means improper, unethical or illegal. I’m not one of those kinds of lawyers. Instead, it’s a valid and legitimate legal claim that should be handled properly and professionally.
In my experience, these spouse versus spouse claims can usually be settled fairly and reasonably without litigation or trial.
Of course, it’s always the injured spouse’s right to decline to make a claim against the driver spouse. However, isn’t that why you bought insurance in the first place, namely to make sure that if you or your spouse made a mistake and hurt someone the insurance company would make it right and protect you regardless of who you hurt???
Tim Rayne is a Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyer with offices in Kennett Square and West Chester, Pennsylvania. For over 20 years, Tim has been helping injured victims of car accidents receive fair treatment from insurance companies. Contact Tim at 610 840 0124 or [email protected] for a free review of your case.