As a passenger in a vehicle, you should be protected by the driver’s insurance policy or your own auto insurance policy in case of an accident. But that doesn’t always mean the insurance company will be willing to pay.
So can you sue your spouse or another loved one if you’re injured in an accident that they are at fault for? Generally speaking, you will only be able to pursue a lawsuit against a spouse or other family member if they engaged in willful or wanton misconduct.
This is covered under the Indiana Guest Statute IC 34-30-11-1. We’ll explain more detail about this law and provide some insights as to what you should do in the case of car accident injuries involving a loved one.
Indiana Guest Statute Explained
Under this statute, there are six parties to whom the operator of a motor vehicle is not liable for damages or injuries. These parties include the following:
- The driver’s spouse
- The driver’s parent
- The driver’s child or stepchild
- The driver’s siblings
- A hitchhiker
However, one aspect of the law can leave some room for a lawsuit. It states that if you paid for the transportation, the Guest Statute does not apply.
Additionally, if your loved one is not found to be at fault for the accident and the other driver involved in the accident is uninsured or underinsured, then you might be able to pursue a claim against your loved one despite the Guest Statute.
Paying Bills After an Accident Where Your Spouse Is At-fault
The best way to pay medical bills and other related expenses is to file a claim with their car insurance company. Given that the driver is your spouse, you likely have the same car insurance company. That means that it should be simple to include your injuries as part of the same claim to get the vehicle repaired.
Although you’re dealing with your own insurance company in this instance, you should not let your guard down or feel as though you can speak candidly with the insurance company. Even though you’ve been paying premiums to this company to provide coverage for an event like this, they might not have your best interest at heart.
Be careful what you and your spouse say when opening a claim for property damage. If they ask about injuries, state that you’re being assessed or avoid the question entirely. You might not know the full extent of your injuries when opening a claim to have your vehicle repaired.
Just like a claim against another driver’s insurance can be denied, your claim against you or your spouse’s car insurance can also be denied. The insurance company might try to prove that your injuries are not related to the car accident or that you played some role in those injuries. Your insurance company also might try to prove how pre-existing conditions impacted your injuries.
When dealing with car insurance claims – regardless of who the insured is – you should seek legal advice. And if you’re wondering if you can sue the at-fault party, the best answer will come from a free consultation with a personal injury attorney.
Ready to Assist Your Legal Needs After a Car Accident
Each case is unique and will be based on the circumstances surrounding your injuries. For answers to your injury questions, schedule a free case evaluation with Stewart & Stewart. Our team of expert Indiana attorneys and legal professionals will review the details and evidence in your case to guide you in the best way to get your bills paid so you can heal and return to the life you enjoy.