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Autolitigation(The Art of Suing Oneself)

  • Published: June 19, 2015

No, not auto-litigation, auto litigation. The lack of hyphen turns a simple attempt to claim personal injury damages into a confusing legal morass. Autolitigation is the act of bringing a lawsuit, intentionally or otherwise, against oneself.

In an ordinary wrongful death lawsuit, both (1) the estate’s representative and the (2) defendant’s heir can sue (3) the individual that negligently caused the death. A recent auto litigation matter in Utah began when (1), (2), and (3) were the same person. In the Utah case, one Ms. Bagley caused the death of her husband in a tragic auto accident. The Utah court permitted her to file a lawsuit against herself (as the person responsible for the death) as both heir and representative. The Court ruled in favor of Bagley in her capacity as defendant, leading her (as heir and representative of the estate) to appeal.

At the end of the day, it’s about insurance money of course. If she is successful in suing herself, her auto-insurance (not auto insurance) company must defend her and pay the claim . . . to her. But given the tragedy she has already endured, a legal system that requires the absurdity of auto litigation seems a bit much. Perhaps legislation could be considered to short-circuit this three-ring-circus-like procedure and simply allow a streamlined process for such claims to be brought directly against the insurance company if they are to be permitted at all.

About the Author Abronson Law Offices have extensive experience representing individuals
injured in industrial, premises or auto accidents, we strive to be approachable
to our clients, and seek to make them comfortable.