If you were ever involved in a major accident or suffered a serious injury, you probably know what a personal injury case entails and wisdom in working with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Buffalo, MN.
In Minnesota, a victim of personal injury can claim compensation for suffering a range of past and future losses, including wage loss, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. If you made such a claim and it was legally settled, you may have received a substantial financial settlement.
If you were married at the time of receiving the settlement, but are now divorcing your spouse, it is only natural to wonder what will happen at the time of dividing your assets. Will you need to split the settlement amount with your soon-to-be-ex spouse? Or can you keep all of it?
Understanding How Minnesota Law Works
The simple, yet complex answer to these questions, like to most legal queries is, it depends on your case’s unique circumstances. The purpose and nature of the personal injury settlement will greatly determine whether or not the amount will be split.
As per law, if the settlement is meant to compensate you for past lost wages or if your medical expenses are paid by the marital estate, then the settlement is considered marital property. This, in turn, means that you will have to share the compensation money with your spouse during your divorce.
If, however, the purpose of the settlement was to compensate you for non-economic damages like pain and suffering or injuries to your body (such as loss of a limb), then the settlement is considered non-marital property. So, you need not share the proceeds from the settlement with your spouse.
Types of Compensation in Personal Injury Cases
An experienced personal injury lawyer in Buffalo, MN will tell you that compensation awarded is of three main types:
i. Special Damages
Special damages refer to economic damages, which include monetary components such as lost wages, medical costs, damage to property, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
ii. General Damages
General damages are the non-economic damages, and include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment, and other intangible losses.
iii. Punitive Damages
Punitive damages can be claimed when the at-fault party’s actions are so appalling that additional damages are warranted to punish them and prevent them from repeating their mistake. There is usually a limit to the amount of punitive damages the victim can recover.
Is Your Spouse Entitled to a Share?
According to Minnesota law, a victim of personal injury can recover damages for a variety of losses that were incurred in the past and may be incurred in the future.
Wages are typically considered marital property. Hence, the past wage loss amount in the settlement is also regarded marital. This also applies to settlement proceeds that the victim receives to pay for past medical expenses. That’s the reason why this portion of the settlement can be divided among both parties during the divorce.
However, the settlement received for future wage loss and paying future medical bills is non-marital. Any money the victim receives after the dissolution of their marriage is considered their exclusive property.
In the same way, any debt incurred by any of the spouse after the divorce has to be repaid by the party who takes on the obligation. Hence, the personal injury settlement amount is non-marital in nature, and is not divided.
This means that payments made for pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment are not subject to division either. Your physical body is not a marital asset. It is literally your own and non-marital in nature. Minnesota law upholds this and hence, any settlement amount received for pain and suffering that resulted from an injury to someone’s body is considered non-marital.
It is important to know that most personal injury cases are settled out of court, i.e. before going to trial. This is where things may get tricky. Both parties are required to sign a release form. However, this form does not break the compensation down into clearly defined categories, the way a jury would.
It can, therefore, become debatable as to which category the money received in the settlement falls into, leaving room wide open for claims and arguments on both sides. A jury verdict form, on the other hand, will break down the settlement received in categories such as wage loss, medical bills and pain and suffering.
If you are in the middle of divorcing your spouse and think you have a claim to their personal injury settlement, it is best to speak to a qualified and experienced personal injury lawyer in Buffalo, MN to know your claim and protect your rights.
The laws surrounding personal injury and divorce are complex as it is. The last you need is to worry about your personal injury settlement being divided with your spouse. Fortunately, you can take legal recourse and keep what’s rightfully yours. Hopefully, the above mentioned information will help you figure out whether or not your spouse is entitled to your personal injury settlement. If you still have doubts, it is advisable to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer in Buffalo, MN and make informed decisions related to your case.
Call an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Buffalo, MN Today!
In legal matters, even a single wrong move can land you in hot water. Personal injury settlement and divorce cases in Minnesota are no different. To gain a complete understanding of how your marital and non-marital property will be divided in the split, call an experienced personal injury lawyer in Buffalo, MN at Carlson & Jones, P.A. on (855) 976-2444. You can also contact us online through our website. We will get back to you at the earliest.