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Personal Injury Awards
Certain portions of personal injury awards, personal injury settlements or workers’ compensation awards may be deemed marital property upon divorce in Georgia. In determining whether a personal injury award is marital property, Georgia law applies what is called the analytical approach. See Campbell v. Campbell, 255 Ga. 461 (1986) and Dees v. Dees, 259 Ga. 177 (1989). The analytical approach to the division of these forms of property focuses on the purpose of the award by dividing the award into three components:
- Compensation for the injured spouse for pain and suffering, disability, and disfigurement;
- Compensation for the uninjured spouse for loss of consortium (or support and companionship); and
- Compensation for the injured spouse for lost wages, lost earning capacity, and medical and hospital expenses.
See Dees supra. Once the components of the award have been analyzed and divided, the Court will apportion the award according to its respective category. Compensation paid to a spouse for noneconomic and strictly personal loss under categories 1 and 3 is generally considered that spouse’s separate property. The portion of the award paid to the injured spouse as compensation for economic loss during the marriage, category 2, is marital property. Dees supra. Thus, only portions of personal injury or workers’ compensation awards that are subject to equitable division are the portions reflecting awards for loss of consortium. Awards compensating the injured spouse for pain and suffering or lost wages and earning potential are generally considered the separate property of the injured spouse, as those injuries are personal to that spouse.