Month: December 2016

Does my ex have any right to my personal injury award?

Whether or not a spouse has legal standing for a claim against an ex-spouse’s personal injury settlement hinges on certain material case facts of the actual claim as an experienced Charlottesville divorce lawyer might explain. The date of the occurrence is one primary factor, but there may also be other legal factors that allow a former spouse to claim a portion of a personal injury settlement. The personal financial liability that one former spouse may have to the other can also matter, especially when there is a situation or agreement regarding child support or alimony that is delinquent. Potentially the most important factor in standing to claim an ex-spouse’s personal injury settlement is the actual state in which the divorce was granted.

Community Property States

There are nine community property states in the U.S. that recognize all property acquired during a marriage as co-property of both spouses. The question would be what the court will allow based on the factors of the divorce. Time is very important, and it is entirely possible that a portion of a settlement for a personal injury that occurred while the couple was married could be claimed by the former spouse, even if the claim is paid after the divorce is finalized. This could also be a claim that a current spouse could defend as well, so the potential for a complicated legal issue is clearly present even in community property states. Former spouses may also have a claim if they had to stop working in order to serve as primary caregiver for the injured spouse while they were recovering from the injury. In addition, some injuries are permanent, which can create a problem concerning the amount a former spouse may collect. If the personal injury settlement is based on an injury that occurred prior to the marriage, and paid during or after the marriage, then the uninjured spouse may not have a basis for a claim without mitigating circumstances.

Equitable Property States

The remainder of states are equitable property states that dissolve divorces according to itemized analysis of each asset. There is no guarantee of equal portions being distributed between the divorcing individuals when assessments are made determining non-marital property. Depending on the approach taken by the state concerning marital assets, the pain and suffering component of a personal injury settlement can be determined by the state as belonging completely to the injured party, but the portion that is purposed as recovery for lost income could still be assessed as marital property. Complications can also arise with a personal injury claim when the injured plaintiff has negotiated with the insurance company to forfeit income replacement for an increased amount of pain and suffering damages, which happens regularly in personal injury settlement cases. Some equitable property states are actually unitary in marital property approach, meaning that the entire amount of a personal injury claim belongs completely to the injured person. However, workers compensation injury settlements are usually marital property because they are economic recovery damages.

Divorce Decree Agreements

In many ways, a final divorce decree is effectively a contract between the divorcing parties that should include all aspects of asset allocation before the divorce is finalized. Regardless of the state’s approach to marital assets and liabilities, an enforceable contract between the two former spouses will control distribution of the personal injury settlement. This technical approach to a planned divorce is the best method of ensuring that an ex-spouse will receive an appropriate portion of the settlement based on all case factors. Injuries that are permanent can also be questionable claims, because often the ongoing income recovery damages will be for a period of time during which the two are not married, meaning the court will probably need to intervene with an additional ruling on the settlement intentions and allocations.


MWThanks to our friends and contributors from MartinWren P.C. for their insight into the effects of divorce on a personal injury award.

5 Common Causes of Car Accidents

Distracted Driving

Modern technology is great. It has brought all the world’s information to our fingertips. Unfortunately, that information is also available when we’re driving. We all know the temptation to check what’s going on when we hear the familiar beep beep asking us to look at our phones. But giving in to that temptation can be dangerous.  While a driver is looking down at a phone, he or she is not looking around them, and the world keeps moving. Pedestrians, bikers, and other drivers are all in danger when someone gives into the temptation to look at their phone. This is one of the most common causes of car accidents these days.

Drunk Driving

Some of the most devastating accidents I’ve seen in my career have been the result of alcohol and driving mixed. You just can’t drive and react the way a sober person can when you’re intoxicated. There’s also no way for other drivers to protect themselves from drunk drivers. If someone swerves into your lane and drives right at you, what can you do except brace for impact? Drunk driving kills, and it is a major cause of car accidents.

Aggressive Driving

Everyone gets frustrated by traffic sometimes, but when that boils over into aggressive driving, accidents can happen. Drivers must take care not to needlessly endanger others. But when someone gets aggressive, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Cutting other drivers off and forcing them to slam on their brakes isn’t just unsafe, it can be deadly. In Colorado, if you’ve been the victim of an overly aggressive driver, you may be entitled to punitive damages. If you want to know more, contact a car accident lawyer. Most of us offer free consultations.

Bad Weather Conditions

Most places have some type of bad weather during parts of the year. Where I’m from, we get snow pretty regularly for about 4 months each year. That can make driving treacherous. Cars just don’t react the same way in snow as in dry conditions. They take longer to stop and are more likely to skid out of control. That doesn’t mean accidents are inevitable though. Drivers are still responsible for driving appropriately for the conditions. If everyone did that, there wouldn’t be accidents because of bad weather conditions.

Lack of Care

This is probably the most common source of accidents. Failing to pay proper attention while driving. Whether it’s failing to stop and a stop sign, failing to yield to oncoming traffic when turning left, or failing to notice stopped traffic in front of you, a simple lack of care can have devastating consequences.

So there you have it, the five most common causes of car accidents. Contact me directly at the link below if you want to know more.


Cannon HadfieldThanks to our friend and blog author, Sam Cannon of Cannon Hadfield, LLC for his insight into car accident.