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Recover Damages from Relatives for Personal Injury if They Are at Fault

Steve Wagner

Last week, a 27-year-old mother from Martinsville was arrested for neglect of a dependent and drunk driving. In cases like these, can family members be sued for personal injury or wrongful death?

The mother in question was driving a 1992 Chevrolet Lumina while intoxicated, on US 231 north of Jasper. Eyewitnesses recall that the vehicle was being driven erratically and passing other cars on the shoulder in a dangerous manner, until it eventually struck a traffic sign and came to a stop off the side of the road. The vehicle hit the traffic sign when it was trying to pass a truck near County Road 500, and sideswiped the northbound 1990 Chevy Pickup in the process.

The driver had two of her children: a one year old and a two year old, in the car.

In this case, fortunately, neither of the children were injured, but the mother was taken to jail, and charged for criminal recklessness, operating while impaired with a controlled substance, and neglect of dependents. However, there have been countless incidents in the past when close relatives, including children and spouses have suffered from serious injuries due to reckless driving by a relative.

The law does not distinguish between relatives and strangers. Earlier, interspousal tort immunity may have prevented you from suing your spouse, but in recent times, almost all jurisdictions have abolished this immunity and people are now free to sue their spouses for most reasons.

If your close family members who are responsible for an accident in which you were injured have adequate insurance to pay for a personal injury claim – which includes the medical costs, value of damaged property and compensation for loss of income – then there is no reason to not go ahead with a personal injury lawsuit. Suing a close relative does not necessarily increase the chances of them going to jail for the accident. The police case for reckless driving or driving under intoxication runs separately from the personal injury lawsuit.

Wagner Reese has a team of experienced and competent Indiana injury lawyers who are skilled at taking on this type of sensitive case. Call us at (888) 204-8440 for a free case evaluation with our Indianapolis personal injury lawyers. With us, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain – we do not charge any money upfront and you do not have to pay us anything until you receive your settlement from the insurance company.


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