Work Injury Compensation Lawyer
When an individual sustains a work-related injury, they are usually entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits cover all medical expenses to treat the injuries, as well as cover the lost wages from being unable to work. Wage replacement benefits are typically paid either on a weekly bases or they may be paid in a lump sum settlement.
If a spouse is injured on the job and is going through a divorce, how does the asset division affect the workers’ compensation benefits and/or settlement the injured spouse receives? This often depends on what state the couple lives in and how this addressed in the marital dissolution and workers’ compensation laws of that state.
In some states, these benefits are considered wages and cannot be included in the final division of assets. In other states, the benefits are considered a personal injury settlement and could be considered marital property, while other states could consider the settlement separate property. Your Fort Lauderdale work injury compensation lawyer can explain what the law are in your state.
There are four different ways that each state’s legal systems will choose to classify workers’ compensation benefits. These are:
Benefits treated as wages: When the court considers the benefits as a wage replacement, then these funds are considered part of the marital estate and will be included in the division of assets in the final divorce settlement. Any payments the injured spouse received during the marriage becomes part of the marital estate, however, any benefits the injured spouse received before the marriage or after the marriage ended are classified as separate property.
Benefits treated as a personal injury settlement: States that classify workers’ compensation benefits as a personal injury settlement usually divide the settlement into different sections:
- Any benefits received for both medical expenses and lost wages during the marriage are classified as marital property and become part of the division of assets.
- Any benefits received for both medical expenses and lost wages either before or after the marriage are classified as separate property and do not become part of the divorce settlement.
- Any payments received for a permanent disability, such as loss of a limb, is classified as separate property belonging to the injured spouse even if it was received during the marriage. The funds do not become part of the marital estate.
Benefits treated as disability pay: When the court considers benefits received as disability pay, these funds are treated the same way as wage replacement. Payments received during the marriage are party of the marital estate and part of the divorce settlement and those received before or after the marriage are classified as separate property belonging solely to the injured spouse.
There are some states that consider the entire amount of workers’ compensation benefits to be part of the marital estate if the right to receive benefits occurred during the marriage, regardless of how much in benefits were actually received. For example, a spouse is injured three months before the marriage ends, but does not receive a lump sum payment until after the divorce. Because the workers’ compensation claim was opened during the marriage, the entire amount of the award is still factored into the divorce settlement.
Thank you to our contributors at the Law Offices of Franks, Koenig & Neuwelt for their knowledge about workers’ compensation benefits.