A Pending Divorce and a Personal Injury Claim

Consider this: you are going through a divorce and while it is still pending you find yourself involved in a serious car accident which resulted in injuries. What are the legal obligations in a scenario where you are injured and your divorce is not final? Is your soon-to-be-ex-spouse entitled to any of the money to compensate for your injuries?

According to Tennessee law, any monetary proceeds stemming from a personal injury award is considered “marital property”. Other awards and benefits considered marital property include workers’ compensation benefits, social security payments, and other similar actions which involve lost wages during a marriage, medical expenses paid with marital property, and any damage to marital property.

In regard to pain and suffering or loss of consortium? In general, noneconomic damages will not be considered marital property because the injured person is the only one who experienced the pain and suffering following the accident.

As far as loss of consortium, this is a legal basis for a non-injured spouse to receive compensation because the injured spouse cannot fulfill their spousal role because of the injury.  Obviously, if you are going through a divorce when the injury occurred, there is no spousal role to fulfill.

However, if the funds from noneconomic damages become mixed with other marital assets, then it may be deemed marital property. For example, you used some of the pain and suffering award to pay the mortgage.

The court in that scenario will decide whether the estranged spouse became liable or helped pay for any of the medical expenses or personal property losses. The practical way to address this situation is to hold the money in trust until such time as the divorce becomes final.

Hopefully, the personal injury award will be one of the many property rights the divorcing couple will consider to reach an out-of-court divorce settlement. If not, then the personal injury award should sit undisturbed in trust and it will be a matter in dispute during the divorce trial and the judge will determine the amount, if any, that must be paid to the estranged spouse.

If you have any questions regarding how divorce will affect a personal injury claim in Tennessee, please contact our Nashville personal injury attorney at Jeff Roberts & Associates, PLLC and schedule a free consultation. In our office EVERY CLIENT MATTERS. Remember, “Stay safe, and stay informed!”

First Accident with Injuries? Here are Three Things You Should Know

Being injured in a car accident for the first time is a frightening, confusing, and stressful experience. While you heal from your injuries, trying to recover compensation to pay for your medical bills, property damage, lost earnings for missing time from work, and other expenses can hinder the recovery process. Whenever you are dealing with insurance companies, it is imperative to learn how they often handle car accident and personal injury cases.

The following are three things you should know that may shed some light on your situation if you are dealing with a personal injury claim for the first time:

  1. Insurance companies are not looking out for your best interests – The main goal of insurance adjusters is to protect their profit margin, which means doing whatever it takes to either pay injured parties the lowest settlement amount possible or deny their claims entirely. To level the playing field, you must either spend hours researching how to obtain a maximum settlement or hire an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights and best interests.
  2. Insurance companies want their money back – There is often more than one insurance company who may be involved in your claim. Some examples are health insurance, workers’ compensation, short-term disability, collision coverage, uninsured motorist, and additional liability insurance just to name a few. One or more of these various insurance companies may pay benefits on your behalf, but beware…if these additional insurers pay, they usually want their money back and they do not care if you end up with $0.00 for compensation for your permanent injuries. They will often file a lien against your settlement. Understanding how these insurers interact with one another is daunting. Any wrong decision may expose you to a lawsuit from one of them.
  3. Your medical history will be heavily scrutinized – The insurance claims adjuster wants to examine your prior health background to ensure you are not claiming compensation for an injury that has been a nagging ailment before the collision occurred. So if an insurance company discovers you had a pre-existing condition in the same body part that was injured in the accident, they can claim the accident didn’t cause your injury and thus minimizing or denying your settlement.

The best way to win the claim game is to hire our Nashville personal injury lawyer at Jeff Roberts & Associates, PLLC to level the playing field against the insurance company and advocate on your behalf. If you have been injured in a car accident for the first time, pleasecontact us and schedule a free consultation today.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.