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How are personal injury damages divided in a California divorce?

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2022 | Firm News

Financial considerations are at the center of many California divorces. While some will automatically link that to high-asset cases where people want to maximize the amount of property they get from the marriage, there are other circumstances where it comes to the forefront. Some might not be as clear about how a marital home will be split, how a business will be divided and what will happen to financial portfolios and retirement accounts. One instance that can be confusing is if there is a personal injury lawsuit in progress or damages have already been paid. The law is specific about this issue.

What does the law say about personal injury damages with property division?

If there were community estate personal injury damages that a person received through a judgment or in a settlement and the accident itself happened during the marriage, it is not necessarily separate property.

If it falls under Code 781 of California family law, it is separate property if the cause of the injuries happened after the couple was either divorced or legally separated; or if the person who was injured was living separately from the spouse. If the noninjured spouse paid any expenses to cover the injured spouse’s care and it was either separate or community property, that spouse can request reimbursement for what was paid.

With personal injury cases categorized as community estate, the injured person will get the proceeds of a legal case as part of the divorce unless the court finds that the amount of time that passed since the award would warrant a different decision. The economic circumstances will also be a factor. The court strives to come to a fair resolution and the amount could be proportional. The injured party will get at least half.

For help with unusual property division concerns, legal guidance can be important

Personal injury claims can come about for many reasons including an auto accident, premises liability or medical mistakes. Regardless, those who are in the middle of a divorce and are filing a claim, are negotiating a settlement, have gone to court or have already received their payment should know how it is handled in a divorce.

Since divorce is an emotional time and people could disagree over just about every issue from property division to support to child custody, it is vital to have experienced help and to be protected. Caring and aggressive legal guidance can protect a person’s rights, ensure they get everything they are entitled to and are not taken advantage of. Calling knowledgeable professionals for help and representation is a useful step from the start.