“Sue My Wife, Please!”
Can I sue my spouse for injuries sustained in a car accident? Yes. You can always sue. The more important question is – “Would it be covered by insurance?” The answer is “Probably not.”
Take a common scenario. You and your spouse go out to dinner. Your spouse is driving. You get hit by another car and sustain very serious injuries. – broken bones that require surgery to fix. You’re out of work for three months. The other car was mostly at fault, but your spouse bears some of the responsibility.
The car that hit you has only $25,000 in liability insurance. You and your spouse have a policy with $100,000 in liability insurance.
You want to get the maximum compensation. If you sue your spouse, does the insurance policy have to compensate you, her spouse who has been injured by her negligence? Can you tap into the $100,000 pot of gold at the end of that rainbow?
Spousal Liability Coverage
Most likely you are out of luck. In New York, spousal liability coverage has to be selected. When you get your car insurance renewal letter in the mail every year, or when you buy insurance online, you get a choice of whether or not you want spousal liability coverage. The insurance industry cleverly sets the default setting as “NO” for spousal liability coverage. Most people want the cheapest option possible, have no idea what spousal liability coverage is, and don’t inquire further.
It’s a coverage that is not a big money maker for insurance companies, but that can end up being very helpful to policyholders. Instead of educating consumers about the importance of this coverage, insurance companies automatically assume that you don’t want it, and make you have to request it.
Every person I have ever discussed this with has said that without any doubt, if he or she had known about this coverage, selecting it would have been an obvious “YES”. For just a few dollars more per year, you can be covered in the event you are severely injured in an accident partially caused by your spouse.
The New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA) is sponsoring a bill that would switch the current situation. If passed, the bill would require all car insurance companies in New York to automatically include spousal liability coverage, but would enable consumers to opt out if they didn’t want it. It would not force anyone to buy the coverage, it would rather force the insurance companies to educate the public about it. I was in Albany last week, along with other NYSTLA members, meeting with legislators about this issue and I am hopeful that this common sense law will pass sometime in the near future.
If you have questions about your car insurance policy, call the LAW TEAM today for a free consultation. 212-LAW-TEAM.