One commonly asked question in our Georgia divorce cases is “Will my spouse receive any part of my personal injury award in my divorce?” In Part 1 of this discussion, I discussed in generalhow Courts look at personal injury claims in Georgia divorces. In Part 2, I will discuss why “lump sum” personal injury claims settlements present an added layer of complexity.
As with many cases in litigation, parties settle personal injury suits. Often times the settlements are lump sum in nature. When I use the term “lump sum,” I mean that the settlement is for anagreed upon amount and it was never designated what part is for lost wages, what part is for medical bills and what part is for pain and suffering. As you can imagine, this creates a problem whentrying to determine what part of the award should be divided between the spouses and what part of the award is actually the injured spouse’s separate property.
When you have this “lump sum” settlement scenario, it is very important that you have an experienced Georgia divorce attorney who will know how toeither employ the personal injury attorney or an expert to establish the purpose for the award. Even if it is found that part of the personal injury settlement is subject to equitable division,the Court can still evaluate whether it would be “equitable” or “fair” for the non-injured party to receive a portion of those settlement funds.
By Alyssa Vaughn, Associate, Meriwether & Tharp. LLC