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My spouse recently physically injured another person. Will I have to pay for the injured person's injuries? Can I be sued for damages, just because I am a spouse?
Under Illinois law, you are not responsible for your spouse’s actions in causing injury or damage to another person just because you are married. This applies in all types of situations in which your spouse may have caused injury to another person.
Negligent Conduct by Your Spouse
If your spouse caused an automobile collision and injured another person, you are not responsible.
What if my spouse injured a pedestrian?
You are not responsible just because your spouse caused the injury. Likewise, if your spouse's negligent conduct causes another person to slip and fall and have serious injuries, then you are not responsible even though this was caused by your spouse.
Intentional Injury Caused by Your Spouse
You are not responsible if your spouse intentionally hurt or injured another person. This covers, for example, assault, battery, and intentional collisions with automobiles—really any act by your spouse done intentionally that causes injury does not subject you to money damages for that injury to another person.
The Rights of Married Persons Act in Illinois specifically removes the responsibility of one spouse for the other's actions which result in money damages for injuries just because you are married. (750 ILCS 65/4)
The Rights of Married Persons Act, Section 4, Recovery of Damages provides:
“For all civil injuries committed by a married person, damages may be recovered from that person alone, and his or her spouse shall not be responsible for those damages, except in cases where he or she would be jointly responsible with that person if the marriage did not exist.”
So, as long as you and your spouse did not act together to cause the injury to the other person, the mere fact that you were married does not impose a responsibility or liability upon you for damages.
Are There Any Exceptions to These Rules?
If you participated with your spouse in injuring the other party, then you could find yourself responsible. The Rights of Married Persons Act will not shield you from financial responsibility to the injured person. Also, if your spouse was acting as your agent or employee and injured caused injury to another person, then you may be responsible. However, this responsibility arises not because you are the spouse but you are in a principal/agent role with your spouse or being your spouse’s employer.
If you have questions concerning personal injury law, please contact a skilled Hinsdale personal injury attorney at Martoccio & Martoccio. Call 630-920-8855 today.