When It Might Be an Appropriate Time to File a Lawsuit Against a Friend or Family Member in Illinois

Legal News GavelChances are, most people have not contemplated suing the spouse to whom they are happily married. There are certain circumstances, though, in which that can be a wise and prudent step. One of those is when a passenger spouse is injured as a result of the driver spouse’s negligence in causing an auto accident. When that happens, a lawsuit may be one of several options available. A knowledgeable Illinois car accident attorney can help you assess your case and choose a strategic path for proceeding.

One couple for whom such a spouse-versus-spouse lawsuit took place was Patricia and William from Will County. The pair, proud Illinoisans since 1971, decided to load up the motor home and two grandchildren for a weeklong vacation in Florida. On the way back, and while still in Indiana, William lost control of the motor home and slammed into a concrete wall. Patricia was hurt in the accident.

Patricia filed a lawsuit against William. This might sound a bit strange for those not familiar with these issues. However, it often may be exactly the right thing to do, even if both spouses are insured under the same auto insurance policy, in order to allow an injured spouse to collect the full recovery to which she is entitled. It is important to understand, though, that even if both spouses agree about filing the lawsuit, a contested litigation action may still result, since the auto insurer will likely put on an aggressive defense on behalf of the defendant spouse.

The wife brought her lawsuit back home in Will County. Counsel for William argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed. William’s argument was that, since the accident happened in Indiana, Indiana law, rather than Illinois law, should determine the outcome of the action. (Strategically, this was a key argument for the defense because Indiana has a “spousal immunity” rule that would prevent Patricia from pursuing her case against William at all, while Illinois does not have such a rule.)

In essence, the case came down to whether or not Indiana’s law of spousal immunity should apply to this couple’s case. The Appellate Court determined that it shouldn’t and that the wife should be allowed to proceed. Since the central issue was whether or not the husband was immune from suit by his wife, rather than whether or not he actually was negligent in causing the accident that injured Patricia, the key locations to be examined in determining which state’s laws should apply were “the parties’ domicile and where their relationship was centered,” rather than where the accident occurred. Patricia and William lived in Illinois, and their relationship had been centered in Illinois for the last 42 years, so Patricia was entitled to pursue her case under Illinois law.

If you have been injured in a vehicle accident involving friends or family, there may be various different legal strategies and techniques to allow you to obtain the recovery you need. Skilled Illinois counsel can help you identify all of your options, even ones that you possibly had not even considered before, and also provide you with advice regarding which avenue may be right for you. The diligent Chicago car accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck have been providing their clients with reliable advice and strong advocacy for many years. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Winter Weather in Illinois Again Brings Slick Roads, Fatal Vehicle Crashes, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Jan. 29, 2018

Taking on an Illinois Auto Accident Case When You Were Hit by Multiple Other Drivers, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Dec. 7, 2017