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“Should I File for Divorce Before or After a Personal Injury Claim?”

Riddle Brantley LLP   |  June 1, 2021   |  

When someone is injured in an accident or because of someone else’s negligence, the process is almost never an easy one. Having to consider divorce while you’re going through that can make it even harder.

If you’re in this situation, you may be wondering – what happens to any money I am awarded in a personal injury lawsuit? Is my soon-to-be ex entitled to any money from a settlement?

In North Carolina, certain parts of a personal injury settlement are considered separate property (belonging to you and not subject to equitable distribution) and other parts are considered marital property (subject to equitable distribution in a divorce).

Marital Property in a Personal Injury Settlement

Marital property refers to any property acquired over the course of your marriage — essentially, the assets that would be viewed as both of your property in a divorce.

In the context of a personal injury settlement, claims for lost wages, earning capacity, or any settlement for medical expenses are considered marital property, as it’s meant as reimbursement for something that would have been earned during the marriage.

Separate Property in a Personal Injury Settlement

Separate property in North Carolina refers to any assets or debts owned by a spouse individually. This can refer to things that the individual owned before the marriage, or assets acquired from gifts or inheritance during the marriage.

The parts of a personal injury settlement awarded for pain and suffering, disfigurement, or lost limbs are considered separate property, and would generally not be subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. There is also the possibility for claims of loss of services and loss of consortium that could be claimed by your spouse that would not be divided in a divorce.

“Does It Matter When I File the Lawsuit?”

If you’ve been injured and you’re considering divorce (or already in the middle of one), this is one less decision you’ll have to make. In North Carolina, whether a personal injury settlement will factor into equitable distribution during divorce is determined by the date of the injury, not by the date of filing a lawsuit. 

If the injury occurred before you separated, it will generally be included in the divorce for the portions applicable. If the injury occurred after you separated from your spouse, they likely have no claim against the proceeds of your settlement.

An Attorney Can Help

Personal Injury Claim While Getting a Divorce - Riddle & BrantleyDealing with the proceeds of a settlement during a divorce can add complexity to an already stressful situation, and having the right divorce attorney in Raleigh on your side is especially important during this time.

Justice Counts. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you deserve justice and may be entitled to compensation. Since 1985, our North Carolina personal injury lawyers have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for victims of others’ negligence (see disclaimer below), and we’d be proud to fight for you.


*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.