Is Your Spouse Entitled to Your Personal Injury Settlement?
California law allows a non-injured spouse to claim part of an injured spouse’s personal injury settlement. If the injury event occurred during the marriage, all money or other property received or to be received by a person pursuant to judgment or settlement for personal injuries is considered community property. (Family Code § 2603(a)) However, the Court will try to assign the money to the injured party and assign other assets of the marriage in equal proportion to the non-injured spouse. (Family Code § 2603(b))
This is because California is a community property state. Community property is generally all the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage. However, there are still some assets that are considered separate property such as gifts or inheritance. This means that upon divorce, generally, you will split your assets equally, regardless of fault (like cheating).
The above-mentioned rule is only for an injury occurring event that occurred during the marriage. If the injury happened before the marriage or during legal separation or divorce, it no longer applies. The injured spouse gets to keep all of the compensation.
As with all things with the law, it does get a little trickier. The division of the settlement is limited only to economic damages. Economic damages are loss income or medical bills. For further explanation, click here. The other type of damages is for pain and suffering. For further explanation, click here. The reason why it is limited to economic damages is because these damages are usually to compensate for medical bills or income loss. If the injury occurred during the marriage, the money used to cover medical bills is paid by the funds from the marriage. Also, the income loss is due to the injured spouse not working, and therefore, the marriage suffers from a loss of income. The non-economic damages like pain and suffering or a loss of a limb (in catastrophic accidents), is wholly considered specific to the injured spouse and not divisible. However, as every personal injury attorney knows, this is not always easy to do. More often than not, a settlement is not easily separated into economic or non-economic damages. If you or your loved one (or no longer loved one) is injured in an accident, call The Law Firm of R. Sam to determine if your spouse is entitled to your personal injury settlement. Free consultation – we don’t charge you anything if we don’t make you anything.