Are Personal Injury Settlements Considered Marital Property in an Alabama Divorce?

Divorce provides more questions than answers. If you or your spouse have received a personal injury settlement during the course of your marriage, you may be wondering if that settlement is divided up in the course of your divorce.

The answer, as it is with many divorce-related questions, is it depends. For more personalized advice regarding this and other family law needs, call Coumanis & York at 251-260-3927.

There is No Cut-and-Dry Answer

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer regarding whether or not personal injury settlements are marital property. This is because personal injury settlements offer compensation for a wide range of losses, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.

Some of those are considered shared losses and expenses, and so would be considered part of the marital division of assets. Others are considered to be losses suffered exclusively by the victim, and they would not be divided up in a divorce. How much of a settlement is or is not marital property depends largely on the breakdown of the personal injury settlement.

What is a Marital Asset and What Isn’t?

In a personal injury settlement, several types of compensation are considered marital assets:

  • Lost income and wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of spousal support
  • Loss of consortium

These are losses that are widely accepted to be felt by both the victim and their spouse. When a victim has $10,000 of medical bills, that’s something that affects their spouse, as they would also be on the hook for paying those expenses without a settlement. Similarly, lost income is a loss that impacts both parties, as the other spouse would likely to have to ramp up their work to make up for the loss of wages.

Other categories may not be considered marital assets, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Adaptive equipment and prosthetics
  • Future medical expenses (although this is not always the case)

Items in this category are usually considered to be solely the victim’s losses. For example, the spouse of a victim cannot feel their pain and suffering, so they should not be compensated for it.

Figuring Out Property Distribution

If your division of assets involves a personal injury settlement, it is important to disclose that to your attorney as early as possible. They will need to dig into the documentation of the settlement to figure out exactly how much is considered a marital asset.

Remember, too, that Alabama uses the principle of equitable distribution. This means that, even if a significant chunk of the settlement is marital property, you are unlikely to see a 50/50 distribution. If one party earns $200,000 per year and had three homes coming into the marriage and the other party earns $30,000 per year and does not own any non-marital assets, the latter is likely to take a much larger portion of the marital assets.

You may also want to discuss other options for fair distribution with your attorney. If some of the settlement is marital property but most is non-marital, your share might not be much. In some cases, it makes more sense to let the other party have the entirety of the settlement and ask for spousal support instead. Depending on your income and assets, you might prefer a monthly payment in lieu of a settlement payout.

Whether you are the one with the personal injury settlement or your spouse is, it is essential to work closely with an aggressive divorce attorney to ensure that you are treated fairly throughout this process. A lot goes into the fair division of assets in a divorce, and if you do not have an attorney who is ready to stand up to your ex-partner’s attorney, you could find yourself losing everything you have worked to build.

Get Assistance with Your Divorce Case

Whether you’re just starting to consider divorce, or you are already in the middle of the planning process, it’s never too early to contact a divorce attorney. The team at Coumanis & York is here to provide the aggressive representation you deserve during this difficult time. To set up a consultation and find out how we can help you, call us at 251-260-3927 or get in touch with us online.

Tips for Avoiding a Boating Accident

A fun and relaxing day on the water can quickly turn into a nightmare when you collide with another boat, run out of fuel, or lose control of your boat. Boating accidents can be extremely dangerous, often leading to serious injuries or fatalities. With these tips, you can boat more safely and spend more time enjoying time with your loved ones.

If you or someone you love is injured in a boating accident, it’s important to reach out to a personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible. Call Coumanis & York at 251-990-3083 to set up a consultation now.

Never, Ever Boat While Under the Influence

A day on the boat with a 12-pack or a couple bottles of wine may sound heavenly, but nothing impacts your judgment quite like alcohol. This is especially true when you’re on a boat, far away from anywhere you can get fresh water to slow yourself down. On a hot day, dehydration and alcohol consumption can cause you to become inebriated far more quickly than you might expect. Alcohol is a factor in a shocking amount of boating accidents, so stick to water or soda when you’re navigating.

Know the Rules and Laws Where You Are Boating

Whether you are boating somewhere you know like the back of your hand or trying out a new body of water, take some time to review local laws and statutes. You should expect that others will be following those same rules and do the same yourself. Failing to do so could not only cost you money in citations, it could put you in danger of a crash.

Do Not Get Complacent

Complacency is the enemy when you are in charge of a multi-ton vehicle. You should definitely spend time with your friends and family, but do not ever stop checking out your surroundings and making sure you know where you are. Getting too comfortable could put you in the path of an obstacle or cause you to lose track of where you are. By the time you realize you’re lost, out of gas, or in danger, it could be too late to change course.

Avoid Excessive Speeding

Excessive speed is a factor in many boating crashes, but people still continue to seek that adrenaline rush. All it takes is one second to lose control of your boat and cause a tragedy. When choosing your traveling speed, make sure you account for the weather forecast, the number of other boaters on the water, and water conditions.

Make Sure You Have Enough Gas

Running out of gas while at sea is, at best, embarrassing. At worst, it can happen when you’re so far from shore that you cannot call for help or rely on anyone to find you. Avoid the situation entirely by bringing more fuel than you need. Calculate your route, figure out how much fuel you will need to safely complete the trip, and then add some more as a safety buffer.

Keep Extra Safety Gear on Hand

When an accident occurs, you’ll never wish you had less safety gear with you. Be prepared for whatever may come your way by calculating how much safety gear you would need to provide for everyone on board. Then, just like you do when thinking about how much gas you’ll need, bring extra. If someone finds an ill-fitting life jacket, you’ll have extras. Some people go light on safety gear to make room for other items but avoid this temptation. It doesn’t matter how well your family swims or how confident you are about your knowledge of the body of water you’re on, an emergency can happen any time and in any situation.

Call Coumanis & York to Discuss Your Options After an Accident

An accident can forever change your life, and you should not be left with all of the financial burden if you weren’t liable for the accident. That’s where Coumanis & York can help you. We will fight on your behalf to help you get the compensation you deserve. To set up a consultation today, call us at 251-990-3038 or get in touch with us online. We look forward to meeting with you.

What are the Most Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?

There has been a sharp increase in pedestrian accident fatalities in recent years. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), there were more than 6,500 pedestrian deaths in 2019. This was the highest number of deaths since 1988 and a 30% increase over the pedestrian fatality rate in 2009, just a decade earlier.

It is getting more dangerous each year to walk outside around vehicles. And when a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, the chances of a serious or fatal injuries are far greater than when two vehicles collide. Pedestrians have very little protection, and when they are hit by a vehicle or large object, there is not a lot to keep them from hitting the pavement.

Why are There so Many Pedestrian Accidents?

There are several reasons why pedestrian crashes occur, some of the most common include:

  • Improper Lane Use: Many pedestrian accidents happen when a bike that is riding on a sidewalk forces the pedestrian out onto the road where there is often oncoming traffic. In these types of cases, it is usually the bicyclist who is at fault.
  • Unmarked Crosswalks: Pedestrian accidents often occur at crosswalk intersections where the pedestrian is crossing the road. Many of these crosswalks do not have signals, and this makes it far more difficult for pedestrians to know when it is their turn to cross.
  • Dangerous Turns: Drivers who make dangerous or illegal turns are at much greater risk of colliding with a pedestrian. This danger is heightened when cars are turning left, because both the driver and the pedestrian are looking in a different direction.
  • Speeding: Motorists who drive too fast have far less time to react, hit their brakes, and otherwise adjust to adverse road conditions that may arise. And when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian at a higher speed, the pedestrian is more susceptible to severe and catastrophic injuries.
  • Alcohol: In approximately 50% of all pedestrian accident cases, alcohol plays a role. In two-thirds of alcohol related pedestrian crashes, it is the driver that is intoxicated. In the rest of the cases, the pedestrian is the one who has consumed alcohol. The dangers of drinking and driving have been well documented for several decades, but drinking and walking can be dangerous as well, especially when a pedestrian has consumed a large amount of alcohol.
  • Dark Clothing: Approximately 70% of pedestrian accidents happen at night, and around half occur on the weekends. After the sun goes down, dark clothing is more difficult for drivers to see. When walking at night, it is good practice for a pedestrian to wear bright and lightly colored clothing.
  • Distractions: A growing number of pedestrian accidents are caused by distractions. Drivers can get easily distracted by their cell phones, passengers, food and drink that they have in the car, and numerous other things. Walkers can also get distracted by their cell phones, and many of them have the music on their headphones turned up too loud to hear nearby traffic.

The GHSA points to a number of trends that might be driving the recent rise in pedestrian accidents:

  • Larger Vehicles: During the past decade, the percentage of larger vehicles on the road has vastly increased. More Americans are purchasing SUVs, pickup trucks, and minivans as the price of fuel has dropped and the economy has strengthened. Larger vehicles are more difficult to see out of, which puts pedestrians at greater risk. And when a big vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the risk of serious injuries is greater.
  • Unsafe Road Crossings: The majority of pedestrian fatalities happen on local roads, at night, and away from intersections. In fact, during the past decade, the nighttime pedestrian fatality rate has increased by 67%, compared to a 16% increase in fatalities that happened during daytime hours. The GHSA says that this trend highlights the need for safer road crossings and enhanced efforts to make pedestrians and vehicles more visible.
  • Unsafe Driving Behaviors: As we discussed earlier, alcohol plays a role in half of all pedestrian crashes, and many are caused by other unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving, and drowsy driving. Far more needs to be done to curb these behaviors and help keep pedestrians safe.

Contact an Experienced Alabama Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone close to you suffered injury in a pedestrian accident in Alabama, Coumanis & York is here to help. Call our office today at 251-990-3083 (Daphne) or 251-431-7272 (Mobile) or message us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We look forward to serving you!