Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Feb 20, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Whether you may sue your spouse after a car accident that he or she causes depends both on 1) where you live, and 2) the circumstances surrounding the accident. 

Your Right to Sue Your Spouse for a Car Accident

Each state has different rules regarding who can be sued (including spouses) after a car accident. However, the rules can broadly be grouped into three different camps:

  • In some states, you are not permitted to sue your spouse, even if he was negligent. This rule is imposed because, generally, when you sue your spouse, you are really suing your insurance company who will be paying the bills. Some state legislatures believe that allowing a person to sue his spouse—and insurance company—could lead to fraudulent claims as a person could get into an accident solely for the purpose of having his spouse make such a claim.
  • In other areas, you may sue your spouse only if you purchase special coverage. This coverage, often called “Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance” allows you to file suit if your spouse is negligent and causes you to get into an accident.
  • In other states, you may sue your spouse if your spouse is ever negligent and gets into an accident, even if you have not purchased any type of special coverage. You will, however, again need to be able to prove that negligence exists and that your spouse’s negligence directly led to the damages you sustained. 

Whether your state is one of the 12 no-fault states also impacts who you can sue. In these states, it is often the case that only injuries legally defined as serious carry a right to sue for damages for pain and suffering or emotional distress.

Seeking Legal Help with Your Claim

If you wish to file a lawsuit against your spouse for a car accident, consider speaking with a lawyer in your area. S/he can assist you in determining if the action will be permitted under the laws where you live.