Legally, nothing prevents you from taking legal action in a spouse-involved car accident. There is no relevant spousal immunity provision in Virginia. However, there are some obvious emotional issues to consider in these cases. There are some additional legal issues to consider as well.
Negligence law typically does not bend for family relationships or any other kind of relationship. A victim is a victim, and a tortfeasor (negligent driver) is always a tortfeasor. In fact, some negligence principles, such as the family purpose doctrine, take these relationships into account.
Regardless of your relationship to the at-fault driver, or lack thereof, a Richmond personal injury attorney can obtain substantial compensation for these victims. This compensation normally includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, like pain and suffering.
Passenger Injuries in Car Wreck Claims
For the most part, vehicle passengers are susceptible to the same injuries as vehicle operators. So these victims need the aforementioned compensation to put their lives back together.
In many ways, whiplash is a very good example of the serious injuries these victims sustain. In a vehicle collision, the victim’s head usually moves back and forth in a violent, whip-like motion. This motion essentially snaps vital nerves in the neck. As a result, unless it’s promptly and properly treated, whiplash could cause significant injuries.
This prompt and proper treatment is often a problem. MRIs and other traditional diagnostic tests do not detect whiplash. Furthermore, the initial symptoms include a stiff neck and minor disorientation. Many doctors ascribe such symptoms to soreness and shock from the accident. So, they don’t look for further injury.
At Geoff McDonald & Associates, your well-being is our immediate priority. We connect victims with physicians who focus on injuries like whiplash. That immediate connection makes it easier for car crash victims to fully recover from their injuries.
Since they usually don’t brace themselves for a collision, passengers are especially susceptible to injuries like whiplash.
Car Wreck Responsibility
A negligence claim makes people take responsibility for their mistakes. In this context, this responsibility includes paying the aforementioned compensation.
Car wreck claims are about more than ethical responsibility. They’re also about financial responsibility. Financially, the tortfeasor’s auto insurance company is responsible for everything. That includes defending the tortfeasor in court and paying fair compensation.
The insurance company will probably raise your spouse’s insurance rates or drop him/her altogether. But raising rates or dropping coverage can happen whether or not the victim filed a legal claim.
The Assumption of the Risk Defense
This doctrine, which often applies in dog bites and other premises liability claims, could also apply in passenger injury claims. This defense excuses negligence if the victim voluntarily assumed a known risk.
Most passengers voluntarily get into motor vehicles, especially spouses. Many couples travel together when going places. Regardless, passengers almost never assume a known risk. We see this often when the tortfeasor was legally drunk or otherwise impaired. The risk of a car crash is theoretical, not known for certain.
Even if the passenger is married to an at-fault driver, that passenger has legal and financial rights. For a free consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney in Richmond, contact Geoff McDonald & Associates, P.C. You have a limited amount of time to act.