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Motorhome Accident Leads to Injury Lawsuit Between Spouses

Posted on in Personal Injury

Motorhome Accident Leads to Injury Lawsuit Between SpousesDespite being married for more than 40 years, an Illinois woman is attempting to sue her husband for personal injury compensation. In the case of Hand v. Hand, the wife claims that her husband’s negligence caused their motorhome to crash into a concrete wall, resulting in her injuries. The couple was in Indiana at the time of the accident, traveling back from a visit to Florida. Because the incident happened in a different state than the couple’s residence, an Illinois circuit court applied Indiana state law to the case, which would prevent the woman from suing her husband. However, an Illinois appellate court overturned that decision, stating that Illinois law applies in this case.

Conflicting Laws

The court’s decision on which state’s laws it would use in the personal injury case was vital in determining whether there could be a case. Illinois and Indiana laws conflict on whether spouses are allowed to bring lawsuits against each other:

  • Illinois’ Rights of Married Persons Act states that someone may sue his or her spouse for a tort committed during their marriage; and
  • An Indiana statute on transportation states that the driver of a motor vehicle cannot be sued for injuries caused to his or her spouse.

Deciding Jurisdiction

With cases in which two states’ laws contradict each other, the court must determine which state has a stronger connection to the case. The circuit court ruled that Indiana’s laws should apply because the incident took place there. The appellate court disagreed because it believed that the question before it was not whether there was a tort, but whether the plaintiff had a right to file the lawsuit. Both parties have lived in Illinois for nearly their entire marriage, and the plaintiff filed the lawsuit in Illinois. Thus, the appellate court decided it was appropriate to follow Illinois’ law on whether a spouse is immune to a lawsuit.

Suing Your Spouse

In 1988, Illinois abolished its law that gave people immunity from being sued by their spouses. States that still allow spousal immunity often cite the need to protect marriages, which a lawsuit would endanger. Spouses who file lawsuits often do so along with getting a divorce. The plaintiff can seek compensation for damages that occurred during the marriage, including:

  • Physical assault and battery;
  • Emotional abuse;
  • Transmission of a sexual disease;
  • Invasion of privacy; and
  • Fraud.

A McHenry County personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you receive compensation for injuries caused by your spouse’s willful or negligent actions. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.



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