Is My Personal Injury Settlement Marital Property? 

frustrated couple looking at personal injury settlement

It is common for married personal injury victims that have accepted a settlement or won a judgment to wonder whether that money is their own separate property or is marital property. Even if you aren’t getting or thinking about divorce, it is good information to know. 

Marital property is generally any property that is acquired during a marriage. This means that income and all of the things that married couples pay for with their income are generally considered marital property. Property brought into a marriage, and things like gifts and inheritance, are usually considered separate property. In most cases, a personal injury settlement is considered a mixture of both separate and marital property. To determine what portion of a settlement is marital property, Georgia courts do something known as equitable division. 

Equitable Division 

Equitable is just the legal term for fair. Personal injury settlements are separated by equitable division, which basically means that the judge will divide the settlement in as fair a way as is possible. There are, however, certain principles that judges will follow. 

As a general rule, compensation for medical expenses and lost wages that occurred during a marriage is considered marital property. This is because, in most cases, lost wages during a marriage are considered lost marital property, and a personal injury victim uses marital property to pay for medical expenses that are incurred during the marriage. It is fair for a spouse to share in this compensation. 

However, Georgia law considers compensation for future medical expenses, future lost wages, or pain and suffering to be personal property. A spouse cannot claim any of this compensation as their own. As the Georgia Supreme Court has explained: 

A personal injury claim settlement, to the extent that it represents compensation for pain and suffering and loss of capacity is peculiarly personal to the party who receives it. For the other party to benefit from the misfortune of the injured party would be unfair. 

Considering the above, if you are negotiating a personal injury settlement and are also going through a divorce, it is important to make sure that the divorce settlement specifies exactly what portions of the settlement compensates different types of damages. Like any other assets, it is also possible for spouses to agree in writing that a settlement or specific portion of a settlement is separate property. If you have already accepted a settlement for a personal injury, the amount that is personal versus marital property will depend heavily on the language of the settlement and what the purpose of the compensation was for. 

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC 

If you have suffered a personal injury during the divorce process, it is important to understand your legal rights to any settlement or judgment you receive. Joel Williams Law, LLC, helps clients understand these and other related issues. This is also an issue you should discuss with your divorce attorney. If you would like more information or would like to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, to schedule a free case evaluation by calling (404) 389-1035 today.

Negligent Supervision of Children

negligent supervision of children

Parents and caregivers of children have a legal duty to supervise children under their care. Negligent supervision of children can create a legal issue when a child hurts him or herself or when a child causes harm to someone else because no adult was watching them. In these cases, the adult that was supposed to be watching them can be held liable. 

Negligent Caregivers and Harm to Children 

When a parent leaves their child in another person’s care, they are placing a huge amount of trust in that person to keep their child safe. Caregivers — like daycare attendants, babysitters, nannies, teachers, coaches, and camp counselors — have a responsibility to safeguard children under their care. When caregivers fail to take reasonable steps to keep a child under their care safe, they have breached a legal duty and are liable for whatever harm is caused to the child as a result. Whether a caregiver acted unreasonably is a question of fact that must be determined on a case-by-case basis. 

Georgia Parental Liability Laws 

The other category of cases involving negligent supervision of children occurs when a child causes an injury to someone else. If a child was under the care of a daycare provider, teacher, guardian, or any other person with a legal duty to watch over the child at the time of the injury, then that party may be found liable to the person that was harmed. In all other instances, Georgia law holds parents vicariously liable for the wrongful acts of their children. This type of liability is not tied to a parent’s negligent supervision, but rather to the child’s actions. However, negligent supervision and parental vicarious liability are issues that are often closely tied together. 

Under Official Code of Georgia Title 51 Chapter 2 Section 2, parents are liable for negligent and intentional torts committed by their children. Unsupervised children can cause harm in myriad ways because they lack mental and emotional maturity. Georgia courts have determined that liability under that § 51-2-2 extends to auto accidents caused by children under the “family purpose doctrine.” This means that, generally, whenever a minor causes an accident while driving the family vehicle, the parents can be held liable. 

The Official Code of Georgia Title 51 Chapter 2 Section 3 additionally holds that parents are liable for the “willful and malicious” conduct of their children “in an amount not to exceed $10,000.00 plus court costs.” Because damages are capped at $10,000 for willful and malicious conduct, but not for negligent acts, it is important to have cases carefully evaluated to ensure that the proper statute applies. It is also important to note that § 51-2-3 states that it is not intended to provide a restrictive remedy, meaning that parents can be liable for the willful and malicious conduct of their children beyond the $10,000 limit if other theories of liability also apply. 

For More Information, Contact Joel Williams Law, LLC 

If you would like more information about this issue, or if you would like to discuss your case, contact Joel Williams Law, LLC, to schedule a free consultation today by calling (404) 389-1035.