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How are personal injury awards considered during divorce proceedings?

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A recent case has demonstrated how injury compensation payments can become a contentious issue in divorce proceedings. This is particular true of cases where the injuries suffered are serious and the compensation payments received are significant.

The case of Corporal Vaughan

Army corporal Simon Vaughan sustained a serious brain injury when a roadside bomb hit the vehicle he was traveling in during his service in Helmand province, Afghanistan in December 2008.

Vaughan was awarded £1.1million in compensation, but he is now involved in divorce proceedings and his wife is seeking a share of his personal injury damages.

Most of the compensation has already been spent on necessary care as a result of the injury, including adapting his bungalow. The court is now considering whether the property should be sold to raise funds to be shared with his wife.

Shared assets

Currently, personal injury damages are considered an asset, like any other financial or fixed asset, which the court has to consider when determining financial settlements in divorce.

When deciding how to divide assets, the court will ensure that the needs of both parties are met, but the most emphasis will be placed on the welfare of any children.

Ongoing medical needs and lifestyle implications will also be assessed, for example if an individual has significantly increased needs as a result of an injury, the sufferer may be favoured to ensure their needs are sufficiently met.

On the other hand, if the party in receipt of compensation doesn’t have any additional needs, the court may be reluctant to treat the compensation any differently to any other financial asset.

The court must take into account the circumstances surrounding each individual case, so consideration will also be given to other factors including income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources that each party has or is likely to have in the future. The financial responsibilities, standard of living and ages of each party will also be taken into account.

The division of personal injury awards is considered on a case-by-case basis, and this type of compensation will not automatically be retained by the person who received it. It is vital that you seek specialist legal advice if you have previously received a personal injury award and are involved in divorce proceedings.

For more information on how personal injury damages are divided on divorce or to discuss any aspect of family law please contact Janine Hutson on 01772 258321


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