Sadly, injury and illness increase the likelihood of divorce. If you are in the middle of or even considering a personal injury lawsuit, and you think a divorce may be on the horizon, you may have questions about both of your cases.
Our attorneys at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. want to help you answer them.
Is My Spouse Entitled to My Personal Injury Settlement?
Yes, your spouse is likely entitled to parts of your personal injury settlement. This is because some of the damages you are claiming may have affected them, too. If you want to recover lost wages, for example, your spouse would be entitled to these damages, as well, because your wages would have been community property.
You and your spouse both suffered a lack of income in your household due to your injury or illness, which means you are both entitled to replacement wages.
If you receive damages for pain and suffering, however, your spouse may not be entitled to this compensation because they did not experience your pain and suffering.
Dividing a personal injury settlement during a divorce depends on which damages are considered community property and which are considered separate property. Damages related to your body may be considered separate property because your body is your “property.”
For the fair division of a personal injury settlement, your award needs to be very specific. If your attorney knows about your situation, they can help ensure specificity and get you as much of your settlement as possible.
Timing Is Everything
The timing of your injury has much to do with how much of your settlement you will ultimately receive. If you get into a car accident during divorce proceedings, for instance, your spouse may not be entitled to many of your damages – especially if you were living apart at the time.
On the other hand, your spouse may be entitled to a settlement you receive after your divorce has been finalized if you sustained the injury while you were married to them.
Ultimately, the timing of your injury will matter more than the timing of your settlement. Still, you can be strategic about when you file each case.
Should I Divorce or Make a Personal Injury Claim First?
There are no deadlines for filing for divorce, but personal injury claims adhere to strict statutes of limitations. If you wait for your divorce to be finalized before filing a personal injury lawsuit, you could inadvertently miss your deadline and lose your right to sue.
For this reason alone, your personal injury case should be your priority.
Other than seeking medical treatment, there is no reason to delay a personal injury claim. These kinds of cases are usually stronger the sooner you file because your lawyer will be able to talk to witnesses and preserve important evidence.
Meanwhile, there are many reasons to delay a divorce.
Of course, every case is different, and your attorney will help you devise a case strategy that works for you. You will need to talk to a lawyer before filing a personal injury claim and before filing for divorce, so ask your lawyer(s) what is best in your unique situation.
Can My Divorce Attorney and My Personal Injury Lawyer Be the Same Person?
Yes. There is nothing prohibiting an individual from retaining one attorney for two different legal matters. If your lawyer practices family law and personal injury, in fact, having the same attorney could be beneficial.
Since 1997, Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. has offered services in a multitude of practice areas. We have more than 100 years of combined experience, and we are ready to fight for you no matter what you are facing.
Dealing with a personal injury case and a divorce at the same time is extremely difficult, but having the same lawyer can make it easier, and our firm is uniquely equipped to meet your needs.
Our entire team will work together to prioritize your best interests and recover as much compensation as possible on your behalf.
For personalized service and results that matter, please call us at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online.