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Can You Sue Yourself? In Fatal Car Crash Case, Utah Court Says Yes

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on February 20, 2015 3:03 PM

They say a man who represents himself has a fool for a client. But what about the woman who sues herself?

A Utah woman has filed a lawsuit against herself, claiming that her own negligent driving caused her significant financial and emotional damages. This case is just as convoluted as it sounds, so let's breakdown exactly what's going on here.

The Underlying Accident

Barbara Bagley was driving her husband, Bradley Vom Baur, and their two dogs when she lost control of the vehicle on Interstate 80 outside of Battle Mountain, Nevada. Both Bagley and her husband sustained serious injuries when the vehicle flipped over, and Vom Baur died two weeks later.

One of Bagley's dogs was killed in the accident, and the other, Dooley, was lost for 53 days before being reunited with Bagley, Fox News reports.

The 'Two' Parties

Upon Vom Baur's death, his widow Bagley became the executor of his estate, in charge of his medical and funeral expenses as well as executing the terms of his will. As such, she has a legal responsibility to act in the estate's best interests.

But the "other" party is also Bagley, as she was the driver in the fatal accident. Bagley is presumably covered by some insurance policy, though news reports do not indicate what type of coverage she had at time.

The Lawsuit

Bagley (the executor) first sued Bagley (the driver) in district court in an effort to recover damages that include her late husband's medical and funeral expenses, his pain and suffering prior to his death, her loss of financial support, and her loss of his love and companionship. That suit was dismissed in January 2014.

Bagley appealed the decision, and the Utah Court of Appeals has now ruled that the lawsuit can proceed. At this time, no decision has been made on whether the case will be appealed again to the Utah Supreme Court.

In an odd turn of events, Bagley has two sets of attorneys -- one for her executor role and one for her driver role. In many auto accident lawsuits, if an insured driver is involved in resulting litigation, the insurance company will provide the driver with legal counsel. While it is unclear from news reports if that is the case here, it is possible Bagley the executor had to sue Bagley the driver in order to collect on her insurance policy.

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