Merdes Law Office helps spouses and children of drivers who accidentally hurt them. Here is how it normally starts: Father is driving on a winter’s day. Mother is in the front-passenger’s seat. Their child is safely strapped in the back seat. Father is focused on other drivers – hits black ice – and drives off the road. There is a wreck. The child is hurt. Medical bills mount. Mother calls their insurance company. The insurance adjuster hisses: “What kind of person are you, anyway? Father wasn’t trying to hurt you … it was an accident. You don’t want to sue your own husband … do you?” Mother is embarrassed. She quickly puts down the phone and never talks about it again.
The insurance company laughs all the way to the bank. They get to keep their insurance premium – and not pay a legitimate claim. This is why insurance companies have the biggest building in America: The money goes in for every insured person, but comes out for only a small fraction of legitimate claims.
The insurance company is lying. Alaskan law is clear. Family members may assert a claim against the family’s insurance. In this case, there is no need to place father’s assets at risk. Situations like this are exactly why families buy insurance in the first place. It is reprehensible when insurance companies play this game.
The Nuts And Bolts: These claims work similarly to situations where a non-related person negligently runs into you. If Father drove negligently, it does not make him a bad person. It just means he made a mistake. Heck, I normally make ten mistakes, before lunch … every day. And, if I hurt somebody while I make a mistake, I’m responsible for the damages I cause. I’m held accountable – just like Father.
Accountability is important. We all know that if we don’t hold a person accountable for his/her stupid conduct, they will continue doing stupid things. Society is safer precisely because the law holds people accountable. Every parent knows this.
Insurance companies are paid a premium to cover these situations. Insurance companies are supposed to pay for the damages we cause when we make a mistake – when we cause an accident. They then raise our premium rates.
The Family’s insurance company is obligated to pay for the child’s past and future: (1) medical bills; (2) potential (future) lost wages if this injury will impair his/her ability to earn a living; and (3) Pain / Suffering and Disability, if any. This is just like any other claim, except that the claim is limited to the amount of insurance the family purchased.
BOTTOM LINE: When a family member is hurt by another family member’s mistake, it makes sense to call a qualified Alaskan personal injury attorney. Remind him/her that intra-family tort immunity was abolished in Alaska. Drickerson v. Drickerson, 546 P.2d 162 (Alaska 1976). Ask him/her about the Supreme Court case of Myers v. Robertson, 891 P.2d 199 (Alaska 1995), that talks about intra-family torts. The call is normally free.
You can expect this attorney to walk you through the investigation process and explaining how to get all that is legally allowed from your own insurance company. If you don’t know an Alaskan Personal Injury attorney, you can Google for one. Or, you can phone the Alaska Bar Association’s free lawyer referral service: 800-770-9999. If you want our help, call 800-452-3741. We offer a free claim review and contingent fees.