Specific Property Division in Divorce: Personal Injury Awards
Property Division in Divorce: Personal Injury Awards
Personal injury awards are paid to injury victims to compensate for personal injury, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, loss of consortium (i.e., loss of companionship), medical expenses and damages to property when the loss occurred due to another’s negligence. In a divorce, a question might arise as to whether such awards can be considered as separate property or marital property, i.e. joint property of the spouses. There are two primary methods by which courts typically classify such awards as marital or separate property.
When using the analytic method, it separates personal injury awards into two categories. The first category of award focuses on lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Such awards are considered part of the marital assets and subject to division in a divorce, while the remaining portion of damages is treated as separate or non-marital property of the injured spouse for future pain and suffering and lost wages. However, with respect to damages for loss of consortium, because both spouses may make a claim for such damages, any loss of consortium compensation awarded to a spouse is separate property.