Visitor Question

Spousal Liability with Unsafe Driver…

Submitted By: Gerardo (Tempe, Arizona)

My wife is a recent immigrant, but has graduated from a driving school and obtained her Arizona driver’s license. I don’t think she is a safe driver but she insists.

From a legal standpoint, what is my liability as her husband if she has an accident? Given this is a community property state, could I be a legal target?

Could I shield myself and my assets if I were to give her a car, title it in her name and have her get her own insurance policy? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Gerardo,

Gerardo:

In a community property state, property of each spouse may be attached by a judgment against one or both parties. You are correct in that assumption.

To avoid any potential problems resulting from your wife’s driving and possible collision with other vehicles or persons it would be a good idea to have the title and insurance for the vehicle in her name. Although her policy limits may be enough to cover any damages or injuries sustained by a 3rd party, your community estate may still be liable.

The best way to protect yourself is to purchase for your wife very high policy limits. If your wife hasn’t had any accidents and she is over 21 the additional cost for higher liability insurance should be negligible.

Most policies are $20,000 for a single and $40,000 for multiple. If you are concerned about the possibility of an accident involving your wife you might want to purchase $100,000 – $300,000 dollars worth of insurance. In the unfortunate event your wife has a serious accident there will be enough money to pay one person $100,000 and the rest of the injured can split $300,000.

Doing it this way seems to be the most prudent manner in which to deal with this potential problem.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: June 1, 2017

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