Torts, Injury lawsuits and settlements all are treated with special consideration when the individual involved is married. Settlement compensation may be treated as martial property — something that would end up divided between spouses during a divorce.
Buffalo Grove Law Offices can help you understand and take action with regard to your legal obligations and property division when you have a tort or injury claim to consider. Attorney Angela E. Peters will work with you personally to walk you through the process, your rights and how we can help preserve the maximum amount of compensation possible.
Interspousal Tort Immunity Doctrine
This common law doctrine is based on the concept of not permitting tort actions between married individuals. It is based on the theory that a married couple is a single entity. In the 1900s wives were considered the property (chattel) of their husbands, and so were not permitted to sue in their own names. They had to include their husbands as plaintiffs in a lawsuit, in order to move forward with the lawsuit. Now, Illinois, and every other state, has a Women’s Emancipation Act, and women are no longer considered their husband’s property.
Many states have abolished this doctrine with respect to intentional torts such as conversion of chattel, assault and battery. Some states have enacted severe limitations on the doctrine of interspousal tort immunity. Some states have kept the doctrine in place with respect to negligence claims against their spouse. The states that have done this, have done so to stop spouses from working in collusion to defraud insurance companies for injuries that are the result of an accident (like a car accident).
If you or your spouse is expecting a personal injury settlement from a cause of action that happened during the marriage, that settlement is treated as marital property that should be divided between the spouses. This may not be the case if the parties were legally separated at the time of and after the injury, however.
In Illinois, property that is acquired during the time that you are married is considered marital property (with a few specific exceptions). The exceptions could include the portion of the settlement that is for pain and suffering, repayment of medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment and the injuries themselves. The court must decide if these issues had any impact on the marital estate.
In Illinois, the court tends to view the settlement proceeds as reimbursing the injured spouse for injury that affected the marital estate. It affected the injured spouse’s ability to work, eat, function and interact with the family, for example. It affected the other spouse in the same ways and additionally, if, for example, the other spouse had to contribute more to the marriage during the recovery of the injured party.
Parties had divorced. They were back in court. Wife was to pay child support. She had a personal injury case settlement. The Court was deciding how much of it should go toward child support from [...]
Wife filed a complaint in Illinois against the husband for negligence. It was the result of an automobile accident in Indiana. Husband had lost control of the vehicle. He struck a concrete wall. Wife had [...]
The divorce decree awarded wife 17.5% of net proceeds from husband's workers' compensation settlement. The settlement agreement included a Medicare set-aside arrangement of $70,000 for future medical expenses from the injury. The Trial court said [...]