Imagine this scenario, I am driving (as is basically always the case) and my wife is a passenger. Unfortunately, I fail to notice that the vehicles in front of me have come to a sudden stop, and although I slam on the brakes, I cannot avoid hitting the car in front of me, and I strike that vehicle causing my wife to be injured. Can she make a claim for her injuries? Does she have to sue me, her very own husband?
The short answer is that an injured spouse can make a claim directly against their negligent spouses’ insurance company – so you do not have to sue your husband or wife.
Louisiana has what is known as spousal immunity. Louisiana Revised Statute 9:291 specifically provides that spouses may not sue one another in the above-described situation while they are married. If that were the end of it, my wife would be out of luck and would not be able to be compensated for her injuries; clearly not a fair result for my wife that did nothing wrong and was injured because of my negligence.
Thankfully, Louisiana Law provides a work around that allows a spouse to avoid having to sue their spouse, but still allows the injured spouse to be compensated for their damages from negligent spouses’ insurer. Specifically, Louisiana Law allows what is called a direction action lawsuit against the negligent spouses’ insurer.
As commentators have explained, in the state of Louisiana, “[spousal] immunity is personal, so that during the marriage, the victim spouse may bring a direct action against the injuring spouse’s liability insurer.” Lonzo v. Lonzo, 2017-0549 (La. App. 4 Cir. 11/15/17); 231 So. 3d 957, 965.
So while I’m sure my wife would never let me live down the accident, the good news is that at least she could be compensated for the injuries that I, her negligent husband, might have caused her.