Divorce And Your Personal Injury Case
You suffered an accident or injury because of someone else’s negligence. To make matters even more difficult, you are going through a divorce. Whether this is a run of bad luck or just happenstance, these two big life situations require some special thought and consideration. With the right help, you can protect your personal injury settlement or award from being lost to your former spouse. But how can you keep your personal injury compensation safe, when it comes to marital property division in Arizona?
Many factors determine the security of your personal injury compensation during divorce. Arizona has its own laws governing each of these legal matters. Much of these legal protections depend upon your injury date and divorce or separation date. Arizona’s courts decide how to divide your money based on these and other factors.
Anytime you start a personal injury lawsuit, you must consider protecting the case compensation before you even receive it. In fact, your personal injury lawyer can help you protect your money if you tell them a divorce is proceeding or even just being considered. Your interactions with your lawyer include confidentiality. This means that even when you do not know if divorce is a definite decision you can start preparing for that potential outcome.
How Divorce Affects Your Personal Injury Case Compensation
Three common scenarios for personal injury cases during divorce include:
- Medical malpractice filed by one spouse during or before divorce
- Auto accident claims and the divorce process
- Children’s personal injury matters during or before divorce
These three examples only provide a short glimpse into potential scenarios. If you have intention for both a personal injury case and a divorce, talk to your attorney and handle things with their expert guidance. This protects you, no matter your situation. Meanwhile, consider how these examples affect personal injury compensation in many cases.
Medical Malpractice during Divorce
In this scenario, a married couple decides to divorce after eight years together. One of the spouses suffers medical negligence and resulting injuries. That injury leads to extensive time off from work for recovery, thus loss of income. Every expense of the household fell onto the other spouse’s shoulders. It also led to a medical malpractice lawsuit by the couple, against the negligent doctor and facilities.
As part of the personal injury lawsuit, “loss of consortium” for the healthy and income-earning spouse was claimed toward case compensation. When the couple decided to divorce, the personal injury lawsuit was still going through the legal process. So if the case results in an award or settlement, where does the money go?
By looking at this information at face value, you might think the money won in the case goes to just one spouse if the divorce already took place, or both if the divorce is ongoing. But only your personal injury lawyer can help you understand where this money potentially will go in a divorce, according to your state laws and other factors.
Auto Accident Claims during Your Divorce
One spouse suffering an auto accident also sustains a broken leg and some broken ribs. The auto is totaled and other personal property lost due to the accident. This wreck involves extensive recovery time, before the injured spouse returns to work. The insurance company settles with the victim, after the hurt spouse hires a personal injury lawyer.
The spouses were thinking about divorce before the accident occurred. They just needed to start the process. Since they were already discussing divorce and just dragged their feet a bit before filing paperwork, who gets the money from this auto accident case?
Like with the medical malpractice case above, distribution of the personal injury settlement depends on your state laws and other factors. It is not necessarily true that the injured person receives all of the monies owed for the accident. The other spouse may have legal grounds for gaining some of the compensation.
A Child’s Medical Malpractice Case during Divorce
When a child of a married couple suffers brain injury in an accident or due to someone else’s negligence, the strain of those injuries and associated costs often push people further toward divorce. In one such case, the child’s parents gain a multi-million dollar settlement. While one block of compensation is placed in an account for the child’s future medical and living expenses, other monies were awarded for the parents’ financial expenses and psychological strain. That money went into a joint account for both spouses.
When divorce occurs with this much money involved, things quickly become very complex. Many factors need consideration, such as ensuring that the injured child continues receiving the care and financial security intended by the settlement. Both parents clearly suffered in their own ways, leading to divorce. So some money may or may not be distributed among these divorcing parents. Divorce lawyers and possibly even a judge must look at the financial compensation and other aspects of the divorce to determine whether the money is treated as a marital asset, and if so, what amount of money goes to each adult.
Protecting Your Personal Injury Compensation in Divorce
Some simple means of protecting your personal injury award or settlement do exist. First and foremost, engage your personal injury lawyer in awareness of your upcoming divorce. Allow the lawyer to help you decide whether you need a family lawyer’s consultation at the time of your personal injury case. You should also ensure your case compensation is clearly allocated, whether as marital damages or your own personal damages. A personal injury lawyer helps you do this.
You also should open separate bank accounts for your personal injury lawsuit compensation. Your claim proceeds should not go into a joint account, mixing with other funds from your marriage. After the divorce is finalized, you can go back to one personal bank account for all of your money, if desired.
When it comes to protecting your new personal injury case from divorce, be honest with your personal injury attorney. The best time to tell someone you think your marriage is in trouble is before your case begins. Learn more about your personal injury case potential, with or without divorce in your future, by contacting a personal injury attorney.