Are Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Awards Marital Property?

IL divorce lawyerIndividuals who suffer serious injuries are sometimes awarded compensation through lawsuits, personal injury settlements, disability, or workers’ compensation. It may come as a shock to learn that all of these types of compensation can be divided during an Illinois divorce if they were awarded during the course of the marriage. Whether you are the injured spouse or the non-injured spouse, an experienced Hinsdale divorce attorney can help you determine what is and what is not a marital asset, and how those assets should be divided or kept separate.

Equitable Division of Property

Illinois follows the doctrine of equitable division of property, which most other states also do. As such, marital property is divided equitably, or ‘fairly,’ though not necessarily equally. Marital property includes all assets and debt acquired during the course of the marriage except for gifts, inheritance, and other assets specifically given to one spouse and not the other. Pre and postnuptial agreements can also determine what is and what is not marital property.

Is Dividing Injury Compensation Fair?

Victims of serious injuries suffer pain and suffering, lost mobility, cognitive disorders, mental illnesses such as depression and PTSD, loss of quality of life, and much more. A study found that for each day of bed rest in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), patients had decreased muscle strength by three to 11 percent for up to two years. According to the study, “Even a single day of bed rest in the ICU has a lasting impact on weakness, which impacts patients’ physical functioning and quality of life.” As such, how do courts justify divvying up the compensation from a workers’ compensation, personal injury settlement, or disability award when the other spouse has not suffered in the same way? After all, according to the IWCC workers’ compensation maximum weekly benefits top out at just a little over $1,500—not enough for many people to survive without selling their home and making huge sacrifices.

Elements That The Courts Use to Make Decisions

While injury compensation may be considered a marital asset in Illinois, that does not necessarily mean that the non injured spouse will get any of that compensation. The courts use the following information to make injury compensation division decisions:

  • Total assets in the marriage
  • Contributions each spouse made to the marriage, both financial and nonfinancial
  • Health of each spouse
  • Future living and medical expenses of each spouse
  • Ability of each spouse to earn an income

For example, injury compensation may be divided if the non injured spouse took on extra work for an extended period of time following the injury or sacrificed/contributed in other ways.

A Hinsdale Asset Division Attorney Can Help

It is important to seek out professional legal assistance if injury compensation funds are at stake to ensure that you are treated fairly, whether you are the injured spouse or the non-injured spouse. For assistance, call the skilled DuPage County divorce attorneys at the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio at 630-920-8855 to schedule a free consultation today.



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