Yes. If you are injured in a car accident in New York, you can sue your wife or husband if you purchased optional Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage on your automobile insurance policy. Your spouse also needs to be at least partially at fault but that is almost always easy to show.
Will My Insurance Premium Go Up if I Sue My Husband or Wife?
Your premium cannot be increased because the claim is between you and your insurance company, not against your spouse. See If I Sue My Spouse Will My Insurance Premium Go Up?
Is It Wrong for Me to Sue My Husband or Wife?
Not at all. Your claim is not against your spouse. The claim is against your insurance company. That’s why the insurance premium cannot be increased because of the claim.
Reasons why you should file a claim against your spouse:
- You are really making a claim against your insurance company, not your spouse.
- You won’t be going after your spouse’s money, just your own insurance policy.
- You already paid your insurance company for the right to make a claim for your spouse.
- Your insurance premium cannot be increased because of the claim.
In fact, to sue your husband or wife, your insurance company charges you a separate premium just so they have the money available when you can make that claim.
Why You Are Not Taking Advantage of Your Insurance Company
Your insurance company determines how much money they will have to pay to policyholders who sue a spouse. The insurance company adds the cost of overhead, sales commissions, other risk factors, and desired profit to calculate the premium. If you want to be able to sue your spouse you will buy that coverage and pay the premium.
Your insurance will have to be involved in the claims process anyway.
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Do I Need Insurance to Sue My Spouse for Causing My Injury in a Car Accident?
Before January 1, 2003, Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage did not exist and you could always sue your spouse for your injuries if you were a passenger in a car being driven by your spouse and he or she negligently caused a car accident in New York.
Now, when you purchase car insurance, your insurance company will provide you a notice of the availability of Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage, an explanation of what it is, and the amount of the additional premium.
If you want to be able to sue your husband or wife for your injury, you must add Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage to your auto insurance policy.
Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage is inexpensive and must be offered to you as optional coverage by your insurance company. It is not included in your policy unless you specifically request it and pay for it.
It must be offered for most motor vehicle insurance policies (where such policy is used for the purposes of satisfying the requirements of Article 6 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law),
What Happens if My Spouse Causes an Accident and I Did Not Have Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance?
If you do not purchase Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage and you cause an accident injuring your spouse (husband or wife), your spouse will not be able to be compensated for pain and suffering.
Is My Wife or Husband Entitled to Get Their Medical Bills Paid if I Did Not Have Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance?
Yes. Your spouse is entitled to No-Fault benefits to pay medical bills and lost wages even if you did not buy supplemental spousal liability coverage.
Can My Child Sue for Injury if I Did Not Have Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance?
Yes. Your child or a friend can recover money for injuries, but your spouse cannot.
Your Spouse Must Still Be at Least Partially Negligent for Causing Your Accident
The injured spouse must still prove that the spouse who was driving was at least 1% negligent.
Supplemental spousal liability insurance merely allows you or your spouse to recover money for injuries as any other injured person could.
Advantages of Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance
One of our clients was a passenger in his car when his wife was driving. He was injured in a hit and run accident when the other car fled the accident scene.
Our client got $100,000 because we were able to prove she was partially at fault. If he did not pay for supplemental spousal liability coverage he would not have been able to get any money.
Does Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance Coverage Increase My Liability Insurance Limit?
No. Supplemental Spousal Liability insurance coverage does not increase liability insurance limits. It only adds another person to the liability coverage.
For example, if your bodily injury coverage limit is $250,000/$500,000 and $100,000 is paid to your spouse, $400,000 is left to pay all other persons injured. But a maximum of $250,000 can be paid to any one person.
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Robert Plevy, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Rob began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.