Personal Injury Awards And Workers’ Compensation As Marital Property
Most funds that are paid or received by a spouse while still married are often considered marital property and subject to being divided in a Florida divorce through equitable distribution. There are exceptions to this general rule depending on the source of the funds, and whether there are other agreements in place, for example pre-marital property.
Determining how personal injury awards and workers’ compensation awards are divided during a divorce can introduce another wrinkle to the issue of the division of marital assets. Personal injury award or compensation is money that is awarded to someone in compensation for an injury suffered because of the negligent actions of another person. Workers’ compensation is money paid to someone who is injured in the course of his or her employment. To the degree that such awards would be divisible in a divorce depends on several things.
When it comes to personal injury awards, if the compensation is awarded in categories or itemized, as opposed to one lump sum for the injuries, it may be easy to determine how much of the award is marital property and how much is not. If the award is for past medical bills and loss of earning potential, this is likely to be marital property, especially if the medical bills were paid with marital funds. However, compensation for loss of consortium that is paid to the non-injured spouse is likely to be designated non marital property, as is any award to the injured spouse for pain and suffering and future earnings.
With both workers’ compensation and personal injury awards, funds that would otherwise be non-marital property can be converted into marital property due to action taken after the money is received. If the money is deposited in a joint account for example, and used to pay marital debt or otherwise used jointly by both spouses, all the deposited funds are likely to be deemed marital property and subject to division in the divorce.
The time of the injury and when the lawsuit is filed can also have an impact on how a personal injury award is divided, if it is divided at all. The issues discussed above would apply to a personal injury award for an injury that was filed before marriage.
Workers’ compensation awards are sometimes awarded with extra compensation for dependents. The funds payable due to dependents may be considered marital property, or at least payable fully to the non-injured spouse. To have a better understanding on how workers’ compensation awards and compensation for personal injury can be divided as marital property, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
How you handle the proceeds of a personal injury lawsuit filed while you were married can make a difference in how the award is distributed in a divorce. If you are thinking of filing for divorce and would like more information about the division of marital property and debt, contact an experienced Boca Raton, Florida divorce attorney at Law Offices of Schwartz l White for a consultation.