How to Protect Your Settlement of Personal Injury While Getting Divorced
Divorce is a process that requires settlement of all material things between a couple, and the claim you received as settlement for personal injury may just make it to that list.
Whether that happens or not depends on a multitude of factors, such as the accident date, separation date, and divorce finalization date. It also depends on how the money, which was awarded to you when the personal injury claim settlement was given out, was allocated. Hence, what happens to that claim settlement amount depends entirely on each individual case details, and is for a court of law to decide.
There are various ways that this may play out, either in your favour or against you. However, the most common scenarios play out repeatedly, and it may benefit you to know about them in order to be prepared.
There is a couple who has three children. The wife is diagnosed very late with breast cancer due to a misdiagnosis by her doctor earlier, and now the cancer has already spread to other parts of her body. To receive treatment, she must take time off work. Since she is unable to earn as well as take care of the couple’s three children, the entire burden falls on the husband who must take care of his job as well as the entire household, including his ailing wife.
The couple, blaming the misdiagnosis for the extreme condition, file a lawsuit against the doctor who misread the initial mammography. The claim filed asked for damages to be paid for the harm done to the wife, as well as consortium claim on part of the husband. However, as the proceedings of the personal injury claim are ongoing, the couple decide to split and file for divorce. Now, what affect will the divorce have on the personal injury claim made by the couple, especially the husband?
The Husband breaks his leg as well as his arm in a terrible car accident. The driver in the other car was responsible for causing the accident, and hence the Husband decides to file a claim for personal injury against the driver in the other car for damages caused to both his car as well as himself.
Soon after, the couple file for divorce in the court of law, which they had been considering since the past couple of months. Again, does the wife still has a share in the claim for personal injury filed by her husband before the divorce?
A couple file a malpractice lawsuit against a hospital where their child, who is a minor, suffered brain damage caused during a common operative procedure. The lawsuit is ultimately won by the family, and they receive millions of dollars in settlement.
The settlement amount is deposited in two separate bank accounts, such that the first account would be solely for the minor child’s benefit, and the second account would be co-owned by the parents. The question is, in the event of a divorce, who gets what amount in this scenario?
It All Depends on Case Facts…
The facts are going to impact how the judge sees the settlement amount of personal injury when it comes to dividing it up between the separating pair, and all the above scenarios are only some of the ways things can get complicated. However, there are ways you can protect your claim settlement in the event of a divorce.
Steps You Should Take Right Now
The first step you should take is to allocate the damages in a way that it becomes certain, and on paper, what portion of the claims is to be considered “marital” and what portion is to be considered as “personal”. Doing this would ensure that only the marital portion is divided up in the event of divorce while the personal portion remains with you.
The second step you can take is to take your lawyer, who is handling your claim of personal injury, into the loop regarding the possibility of you getting a divorce in the future. Have him redirect you to a lawyer who deals in family matters, and with their help, figure out what the laws are in your state regarding this matter.
Lastly, keep your bank account separate from the account of your wife/husband, as that could save you from a lot of trouble in the event of a divorce.
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