Divorce and Your Settlement: Is My Spouse Entitled to My Personal Injury Settlement?

Posted: June 28, 2021

There are two things that most individuals never want to experience – divorce and a personal injury. Unfortunately, people do get divorced, and it is not uncommon for individuals to sustain injuries caused by the careless or negligent actions of others.

But what happens if these two things coincide with one another?

If you have been injured and expect a personal injury settlement, and if you are also going through a divorce, you need to know whether or not your spouse is entitled to any portion of your personal injury settlement. You can be sure that property division is going to be one of the most contentious parts of the separation process, and seeing as a personal injury settlement will certainly count as property, this is going to be an issue that needs to be discussed.

How is Property Divided in a Colorado Divorce?

Colorado is a marital property state, not a “community property” state. This means that any assets and debts acquired during the marriage should be divided equitably between the two parties after a marriage is dissolved. This includes any property acquired during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled.

This will also include portions of a personal injury settlement.

How Much, if any, of the Settlement Will go to Your Spouse?

If you have been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of someone else, you will likely be able to recover various types of compensation for your losses. In some cases, this will come from an insurance settlement. This may also come from a jury verdict from a personal injury trial. In most situations, injury victims will be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages.

In the event an individual is going through a divorce while the injury settlement is ongoing, it is important to know that the non-injured spouse may be entitled to part of the recovery. Specifically, a spouse will be entitled to part of the compensation awarded to pay for injury expenses that also affected the non-injured spouse’s life.

For example, an injury victim will likely incur various types of medical bills, household out-of-pocket expenses, property damage losses, and lost wages as a result of the injury. All of these losses can directly affect a spouse’s life as well. Because Colorado is a marital property state, the spouse would be entitled to equitable distribution of the compensation designed to cover these economic losses.

However, a spouse will not be able to receive money for non-economic damages as a result of a personal injury settlement or trial. Non-economic damages are designed to cover the more immeasurable losses a person sustains as a result of an injury. These are very personal types of losses, including physical pain and suffering, emotional and psychological distress, loss of quality of life, etc. These are not losses that directly affect the spouse. Therefore, any non-economic damages awarded in a personal injury case will not be recoverable by a spouse in the divorce process.

Working With Skilled Attorneys

If you are going through a personal injury settlement or trial while also going through a divorce, you need to work with skilled attorneys. Specifically, you need to have a Denver personal injury attorney handling your injury claim and a divorce attorney handling your divorce. These two attorneys could possibly work together to help ensure that you receive the total amount of compensation you are entitled to. This can all become very complicated, but skilled lawyers will have the experience necessary to help you through this.