What Gay Marriage Means for Auto Accident Victims

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The country is rallying around, and against, the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide. And while car insurance might not be the first benefit you think of from the decision, it could mean a lot to gay and lesbian auto accident victims and their spouses here in Michigan.

Car insurance benefits probably weren’t one of the reasons why the plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges were asking the Supreme Court to allow them to get married. Even so, now that the court has ruled that states cannot refuse marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples and must recognize those marriages performed elsewhere, Michigan LGBT motorists are finding themselves and their loved ones with some added legal options.

Household Relative Benefits

If you have no no-fault auto insurance policy of your own, your injuries can still be covered after a car crash. The first place the law looks to find an insurance company to cover these situations is in your own home. If any relative in your household has a no-fault insurance policy, you are covered by it.

Before Obergefell, gay marriage was not recognized in Michigan, so gay or lesbian couples were not considered relatives. That cut those spouses off from one anothers’ no-fault benefits. Now that Michigan must recognize their marriages, any spouse, gay or straight, can use the Household Relative rule to receive benefits after an auto accident.

Wrongful Death Claims

After a fatal accident, a person’s family is normally entitled to file a lawsuit for compensation on the deceased’s behalf. But without the legal designation of “spouse,” gay and lesbian widows and widowers had been cut off from these legal benefits. Now an LGBT family can receive the same compensation for the loss of their love one as all other spouses.

Loss of Consortium

In a serious car crash resulting in a Third Party Lawsuit, the spouse of an injured motorist has a claim against the at-fault driver for “Loss of Consortium.” Basically, this is to make up for all the care and support that the injured party would have provided, but now can’t because of his or her injury. Just like in the other claims, a non-married partner doesn’t have the same legal right to these damages. Now that gay marriage is legal in Michigan, these spouses will be able to be compensated for the loss of their partners’ support.

The Obergefell decision has affected a lot of areas of the law, including auto accident litigation. By allowing gay couples to marry, the Supreme Court has given them access to all the spousal benefits built into Michigan no fault auto insurance and the Michigan negligence law.

David Christensen is an auto accident attorney in Southfield, Michigan. He and his team help all type of families recover after serious car crash. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.