Can I be sued for assets under my name? 29 Answers as of July 11, 2013

My wife was at fault in a vehicular accident several months ago. The vehicle is under both our names. The other driver is now claiming injury. The insurance company informed me that our personal assets might be at stake because the claim is much more than the amount our policy covers. My wife and I have separate bank accounts. Can I be sued for assets in my name or is it my wife who is liable?

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Lombardi Law Firm
Lombardi Law Firm | Steve Lombardi
It's difficult to give you a firm answer without sitting down to talk and know more. You ask about you being sued, not your wife. It sounds like your wife is already being sued or may be sued. I'll assume she was the driver of a car with both your names on the title. If you are the owner of the car she was driving at the time of the collision and she was negligent (at fault) and did something with the car to cause other's injury or damage then yes you can be sued. Go talk with a bankruptcy lawyer if you’re really concerned.
Answer Applies to: Iowa
Replied: 10/31/2011
Dearbonn Law Offices
Dearbonn Law Offices | Ajibola Oluyemisi Oladapo
Yes, it is community property and you are as responsible as your wife.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 10/27/2011
Patrick M Lamar Attorney
Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
You both own the car, so you can both be liable.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 10/26/2011
Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry
Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry | Ronald Arthur Lowry
Under the Family Purpose Automobile Doctrine in Georgia the head of the household can be sued for the negligent driving of a spouse or child. There are several requirements to this that are more elaborate than what few facts you described. The insurer has to provide you an attorney free of charge but, yes, if the verdict is higher than the amount of liability coverage you have then you could be held responsible for the amount above that coverage. You need to hire as a personal attorney a lawyer who is experienced in personal injury matters either from the side representing plaintiffs or from the defense side.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 10/26/2011
Klisz Law Office, PLLC
Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
Yes, as owner, you are also liable.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/26/2011
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    Vehicle Code 17150. Every owner of a motor vehicle is liable and responsible for death or injury to person or property resulting from a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the operation of the motor vehicle, in the business of the owner or otherwise, by any person using or operating the same with the permission, express or implied, of the owner.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    It's the driver and the owner who face the liability.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
    Your insurance company should hire a lawyer for you to defend your interests, and he/she should be able to answer this question for you. Generally, the owner or co-owner of a vehicle is jointly liable for any damages caused by an accident while the vehicle was being operated with permission. So you are potentially on the hook for an judgment in excess of your insurance policy. Having said that, the vast majority of auto accident cases settle within the limits of insurance. The letter your insurance company sent you is standard if there is any potential that a verdict may exceed your limits. Note that the insurance company owes you a duty to try to resolve the case within the insurance policy limits if possible.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/17/2012
    Adler Law Group, LLC
    Adler Law Group, LLC | Lawrence Adler
    Since you are one of the car's owners, under Connecticut law if your wife drove with your permission you are personally responsible to the same extent as your wife if there is a loss over your policy. Your insurance carrier has a duty to try to settle within your policy amount and most plaintiffs’ attorneys’ will not pursue personal assets unless it is a very severe injury.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Buff & Chronister
    Buff & Chronister | G. Scott Buff
    As a general rule, you will not be held liable for the negligence or your spouse. You will want to work with your insurance company to try to get the claim settled for the policy limit. Also, if you have multiple vehicles in your household, the policies could be stacked to provide more coverage. I recommend putting all companies on notice of the claim and you should also send a letter to your insurance company requesting that the claim is settled in full for the policy limit and that a full and final release is executed. If the claimant has underinsured motorist coverage, a limited release could be executed which would release your wife from any liability above the policy limit so that the claimant could pursue the underinsured motorist coverage.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Coulter's Law
    Coulter's Law | Coulter K. Richardson
    Only your wife's assets are at stake. If you have joint accounts, only half is at stake.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    If you're one of the owners of the car, you can be personally liable. Demand of your insurance company that they immediately offer your policy limits. Send them a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Mevorah Law Offices
    Mevorah Law Offices | Steven H. Mevorah
    Since the answer to each person's question is based upon his/her specific facts, it is difficult to give an answer without obtaining more information.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 7/11/2013
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates | Lyle B. Masnikoff
    Both are liable because both of you own the car that caused the accident. However, most attorney will just go after the policy limits.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    The owners of the car can be liable under the family car doctrine.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    It sounds like you are being sued already. Since your name is on the title for the car, you can be held liable. Most of the time, the lawyers on the other side will take the insurance money and leave it at that.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Craig Kelley & Faultless
    Craig Kelley & Faultless | David W. Craig
    If you caused the wreck by following too closely then you would owe any and all damages from the wreck including but not limited to: property damage, reasonable and necessary medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C. | Robert Kelly
    Community property of a married couple can, theoretically, be subject to satisfy a judgment. Most assets acquired during the course of a marriage are community property. Exceptions include inheritances and gifts.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator | Bernard Huff
    You should consult a finance or estate attorney for specific legal advice and direction to protect your assets.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 7/11/2013
    Broad Law Firm, LLC
    Broad Law Firm, LLC | Donald K. Broad
    Generally, unless the injured party can prove some type of claim against you, which does not appear to be the case from the facts that you have given, they will only be able to pursue assets that are in your wife's name only. You should consult with a personal injury attorney in your area to obtain a more in-depth answer.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 2/20/2012
    Attorney Paul Lancia
    Attorney Paul Lancia | Paul Lancia
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/3/2013
    Holzer Edwards
    Holzer Edwards | Kurt Holzer
    If you live in a community property state the community assets are available to the plaintiff.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    The owner(s) of the vehicle and the operator are liable. If you don't have sufficient coverage (and most people don't) you need to get legal advice about any excess judgment possible. For starters you might put your assets into childrens names if of age. And if not, into a trust for the children. Get some advice from your lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 10/25/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    If you are an owner of the car, you can be sued for the negligence of anyone who drives the car with your permission and consent and your personal assets are in play if the plaintiff gets a judgment that exceeds your insurance policy.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/25/2011
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