Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Included in a Divorce Settlement?May 8, 2019
When an employee is injured on the job, they are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, the employee may receive a sizeable financial settlement. However, if the injured party is going through a divorce, questions may arise as to whether the settlement amount is considered marital property. If it is, the settlement amount would be subject to split between the spouses. Maryland is an equitable distribution state, which means that property is divided fairly between spouses. However, fair distribution does not always mean that both spouses will receive equal amounts, and not all settlements are considered marital property.
After reviewing the Maryland Marital Property Act, the appellate courts have come to the following conclusions regarding Workers’ Compensation benefits:
- If a worker is injured and receives Workers’ Compensation benefits prior to getting married, the financial benefits are not considered marital property, even if some or all the benefits remain unspent after the injured worker gets married.
- If an employee suffers a work-related injury before marriage and receives a portion of Workers’ Compensation benefits before getting married, and some after getting married, the benefits received before marriage are not considered marital property. However, the financial benefits received by the injured employee after marriage, and up until the time of the divorce, are considered marital property.
- Benefits that are considered marital property include money paid or awarded as part of a final settlement or medical expense reimbursements for previously paid medical expenses.
- Awards for permanent injuries can be marital or non-marital property. Benefits awarded for a permanent injury that took place during the marriage is marital property, but if the permanent injury award covers a period after the divorce, it is not marital property.
- A permanent injury award is backdated to the date of the last compensation paid. Workers’ Compensation lawyers should anticipate this and include it when calculating the marital property award.
- Any compensation awarded for loss of earning capacity is considered marital property if it is ordered for periods during the marriage.
- If the injured worker receives a full and final settlement, their lawyer should include language in the agreement that specifies what portion of the settlement is for benefits that would have been paid during the marriage, including lost wages, reimbursement for medical expenses, weekly benefits from the permanency award, and which portion is for benefits for an injury award that does not cover periods during the marriage.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Clients Secure the Benefits They Deserve
If you are going through a divorce and you have questions about whether your Workers’ Compensation settlement will be divided as part of the marital property, contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum financial benefits you deserve, including settlement money from a work-related injury. We will continue to fight for you until we have your complete satisfaction. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.