Life doesn’t stand still for litigation. A personal injury lawsuit is often just one component of a larger, complicated set of issues facing the injured person, the people who caused the injury, and their families. Among the challenges that litigants sometimes face is a concurrent divorce. Divorce can have a number of effects on a lawsuit and how a prevailing plaintiff collects compensation afterward.
When the plaintiff is getting divorced . . .
A legal cause of action can be thought of as an asset little different from a car or an expensive piece of jewelry. A case that’s pursued to its end could be worth a substantial sum, even after major expenses are paid. Quite often a plaintiff will receive compensation for things like lost future earnings, future medical expenses, or home upgrades to accommodate a disability.
Because a lawsuit can be worth a substantial sum, it can become a source of contention in a divorce proceeding. Depending on the law that applies to the marriage and externalities like prenuptial agreements, the uninjured spouse may be entitled to a significant portion of a future judgment award or settlement. Nevada is a community property state, which among other things means that a married couple will have equal rights to the assets of the marriage, including a legal claim. In some cases, the spouse may demand to be represented in settlement negotiations, complicating the process.
When the defendant is getting divorced . . .
In certain ways a defendant’s divorce proceedings present an inverted set of issues to those raised by a plaintiff’s divorce. After a personal injury case settles or gets resolved through a trial, the defendant may owe the plaintiff a substantial debt. Nevada’s community property rule applies here as well, in most situations making both spouses “own” the liability and debts associated with the litigation.
A typical case settles without going to trial, allowing the parties in the suit to negotiate important details like how the defendant’s payments to the plaintiff will be structured. If the defendant is going through a divorce, one goal of the plaintiff’s lawyers will be to ensure that the divorce doesn’t distract from the plaintiff’s ability to get compensated for his or her injuries. Attorneys can take steps to ensure that disagreements between divorcing spouses remain the couple’s problem and don’t also become a problem for the injured plaintiff.
GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. We work closely with each client to address the full scope of a case, including issues of divorce and other family matters that may affect a case’s outcome. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.