If you’ve never heard of Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance, then you may be unaware of the risk you take every time you drive with your spouse. Many people assume that even if you are found at fault for an accident, your spouse is covered by your own car insurance just as any other passenger would be. That is not the case. In New York State, your spouse can sue you, but the insurance company does not have to defend you or pay the claim for your injuries. This means that if you are at fault for the accident, your spouse will be unable to collect more than the small amount provided by no-fault insurance, no matter how serious the injury is. This however, that’s not the end of the story.
There is something you can do to protect yourself and your spouse. New York State requires insurance companies to provide the option for Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance on all car insurance policies. The problem is that it’s not automatically part of your policy. While you can be certain that this type of coverage is available through your insurance company, unless you specifically requested it, you are not covered.
What is Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance and why do I need it?
Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance is relatively inexpensive, and every married person should have it. This insurance coverage ensures that a spouse injured while riding as a passenger can seek compensation from their own insurance company when the driving spouse is found to be the negligent party in the accident. This is an extremely important coverage as people often drive in the car with their spouse. Imagine a scenario in which your insurance company, which you pay each year, covers the injuries of everyone involved in an accident caused by you, including the other driver, their passengers and other passengers in your car, but your own spouse is denied coverage. This is exactly what will happen if you do not have Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance.
One thing to note is that the insurance applies to your marital status at the time of the accident. If you later divorce before your case is settled, that has no impact on your ability to receive compensation.
How can a married couple sue each other?
There is a widespread misunderstanding of what personal injury lawsuits are, and so people may have difficulty accepting the idea of “suing your spouse”. If you’re having a hard time accepting the idea of suing your spouse, remember, this isn’t about vengeance, blame, or greed, it’s about fairness and your ability to care for your injuries. You pay a premium each year for insurance coverage and it’s only logical that spouses should benefit from that coverage. If I were the cause of an accident that injured my wife, I would be just as happy to have her seek the compensation she deserves from my insurance company as I would if she had sued another driver who caused her injury. Remember, the point of insurance is to make sure that when another party injures us, we can be compensated for our losses and that we can do the same for others if we are at fault.
It’s your own insurance company, but that doesn’t mean they’re looking out for you.
Given the complexity of this type of claim, it’s extremely important to have a professional, experienced attorney assist you. In any accident, the insurance companies will fight over who was responsible for the accident. If both drivers are partially at fault, it means making a claim against both insurance companies. There is also the question of policy maximums. The compensation awarded to all injured parties must not exceed the policy maximum. Negotiations will revolve around which driver is at fault, how much fault each driver has, and how the available compensation should be divided among all the injured parties. If an agreement can’t be reached, it may go to trial. Those who enlist the help of an experienced attorney will have a clear advantage over those who attempt to negotiate on their own behalf.
Putnam County’s Personal Injury Lawyer is ready to help
For over 40 years, I have helped countless injury victims in Putnam County to obtain fair compensation and begin the road to putting their lives back together. If you have suffered a serious injury, the law may entitle you to seek the compensation you need to properly care for your injuries and get your life back on track.
Contact me for a free consultation.