What if the At-Fault Driver is a Family Member?

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driving

Let’s say you’re a passenger in a vehicle and your spouse or another family member is the driver. What happens if that family member makes a mistake and causes a serious accident that results in injuries to you? What are the implications for your insurance claim?

In such a situation, your family member’s car insurance provider will play a dual role.

First, in Alberta and in most other provinces, your family member’s insurer will be your Section B insurer. Section B insurers provide Section B benefits — these are no-fault accident benefits provided by insurers to their insured drivers and their passengers. Section B benefits ensure that your medical expenses are covered from day one, regardless of the eventual outcome of any personal injury litigation.

Second, your family member’s car insurance provider will also be the defendant for the purposes of your insurance claim, if it appears that your family member was indeed at fault. Although a single insurer will play dual roles, the insurer will assign a different adjuster to each role. One adjuster is there to assist you with your accident benefits, while the other investigates the accident and negotiates a settlement with you or your personal injury lawyer.

You might wonder if it’s ever worthwhile to not pursue a claim, since in a way you’re suing yourself. Aren’t you just encouraging your insurer to increase your insurance premiums?

In fact, it’s always in your interest to pursue the claim. First, if your family member was indeed at fault, their insurance rates will go up regardless of whether you pursue a claim. The insurer will determine fault regardless of anything you do. Second, the losses caused by even a minor car accident will typically exceed (and usually greatly exceed) the increased future premiums as a result of the accident.

It’s therefore likely always in your interest to pursue a claim if you’re injured due to someone else’s actions, even if that person is a family member. However, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to determine how the law applies to your particular situation.

 

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