In a divorce proceeding, a personal injury settlement can represent a large amount of money that will have to be divided between the parties. Usually, this type of settlement occurs in Personal Injury or Workers Compensation cases. In Minnesota, a personal injury survivor can recover for a variety of losses including: past and future wage loss, past and future medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
During a divorce, the court or the parties divide the marital property. Generally a party will keep his or her non-marital property. Is a personal injury settlement in Minnesota marital property or non-marital property?
In Minnesota, wages are considered marital property. Therefore, any wage loss compensation arising out of a personal injury claims would be considered marital property. If medical expenses were an issue, they are a martial debt; therefore, any reimbursement for past medical expenses is a martial asset and should be divided between the parties.
On the other hand, it stands to reason that future wage loss payment and any future medical expenses are non- martial because a spouse is not liable for debts incurred after the divorce, nor is the spouse entitled to any additional monies received after the divorce.
Minnesota law says that your physical body is entirely yours and is, in essence, non-marital. Therefore, any monetary awards arising from pain and suffering incurred from an injury to someone’s body are non-marital since the body is not a marital asset. This includes losses arising out of pain, suffering, disfigurement, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life.
It is important to remember though that most personal injury cases settle and the settlement may not break the compensation down into categories, the way a jury would. This may make it difficult to determine which “category” the money received falls into. If you think you have a claim to your spouse’s personal injury settlement and you are in the midst of a divorce you should contact an attorney.