What Happens to My Personal Injury Settlement if I Get Divorced?
When going through a divorce , one of the major points couples often argue over is how to divide property and assets. This can prove particularly challenging if one of the spouses received a personal injury settlement. These settlements are meant to compensate you for both your current and future expenses. As a result they often involve large amounts of money. The following provides a general outline of how these types of settlements may be divided in your divorce case.
Part of the process of going through a divorce is making a list of all property and assets you and your spouse possess. Any marital property earned or accumulated during the marriage is subject to the rules of equitable division. This means that rather than simply splitting everything 50/50, the court will consider factors such as each spouse’s earnings and contributions to the marriage in making a distribution that is fair and reasonable to both people involved.
Under Tennessee Code Section 36-4-121(b)(1)(C), this includes compensation received through personal injury settlements, as well as other types of benefits, such as workers’ compensation and social security disability. Again, rather than splitting these amounts equally between the parties, the judge will look at various factors, which includes the types of expenses the settlement was intended to cover.
Accidents involving personal injuries can end up costing victims significant amounts of money, both now and in the years to come. For example, in a car accident claim, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that economic costs alone can run as high as $100,000 or more. This is in addition to any compensation you may be entitled to for pain, suffering, and permanent disabilities you are left with as a result.
In a divorce case, your spouse may be entitled to claim a portion of these costs as part of a marital settlement. However, in general their rights would be limited to those amounts meant to compensate you for current economic costs, such as your medical expenses and lost wages. They may also be entitled to a portion of non-economic costs, such as those awarded for lost quality of life during your marriage.
They would not be entitled to the portion that compensates you for your personal pain and suffering or for the future medical expenses and lost wages you are likely to incur, which in many cases represents the bulk of a personal injury settlement.
Property division during a divorce is a complex matter which has the potential to impact your financial security for years to come. Before agreeing to any settlements or signing any documents, contact the law offices of Burch & Lockhart and request a confidential consultation to discuss your case in our Manchester office.