When personal injury meets divorce: how to protect your award

By Goodwin Como, P.C.

In the event of a personal injury, the allocation of compensation within a family can vary based on the details of the case. If, for example, you are injured due to medical malpractice, you might the sole recipient of financial restitution. Or perhaps, if applicable, your spouse also receives restitution as part of a loss of consortium claim. Alternatively, if your minor child is the victim of medical malpractice, there may be benefits awarded both to your child as well as to you and your spouse jointly.

The way in which personal injury compensation is assigned depends on a number of case-specific factors. But what happens to personal injury compensation when a couple decides to divorce? For equitable distribution states such as Pennsylvania, the determination of property division can be subject to the opinion of the judge. The terms of the settlement or award will factor into this decision, as well as the dates of your separation and divorce with respect to the date of the accident.

With so many variables at play, it can be a good idea to follow these suggestions to help ensure you retain the compensation you deserve:

  1. Notify your personal injury lawyer as soon as it becomes evident that a divorce is forthcoming. They can consult with a family law attorney to determine the state-specific impacts of divorce on personal injury compensation.
  2. Go through your damages claimed, separating the personal from the marital.
  3. Until a judge makes an equitable distribution ruling, deposit your personal injury benefits into a separate bank account that is not shared with your spouse.

Divorce and personal injury can both be highly stressful experiences. Finding a lawyer experienced in both practice areas can be an enormous help.