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Car Accident Claims Against Family Members

Not long ago, tort claims against family members were prohibited in all jurisdictions. The rationale was that it is bad public policy for family members to be suing each other (or even make pre-litigation claims against each other). The law was referred to as inter-family torn immunity, which included spousal- immunity. Now, in most jurisdictions, a victim of negligence may make a claim against a family member, although the claim is limited to the insurance policy limits. This is much better law, allowing compensation under a policy paid for for just such an occurrence (to compensate those injured by the insured's negligence).

Case Study

A few years ago, I represented a woman who was very seriously injured when her husband drove his vehicle, in which my client was a passenger into the garage of a home. The accident was covered on the local news. The elderly husband swore that the brakes failed and that the vehicle operated independently to cause the accident. Not surprisingly, the vehicle was inspected by the driver's insurer who determined that the accident was caused by the driver's error. The wife's injuries included a fractured knee cap, and significant residual scarring. The medical bills incurred were in excess of $50,000.00, and the case ultimately settled for several hundred thousand dollars. My client was fortunate that she and her husband had a substantial policy and that the law now allows for a spouse to make a claim against her husband.

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