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TexLaw
TexLaw, Attorney
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Satisfied Customers: 4213
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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I received a personal injury settlement while married. Is

Resolved Question:

I received a personal injury settlement while married. Is there a way to use the confidential settlement agreement I signed in a divorce proceeding to prove that the money was just for injury I had sustained and not for loss of consortium or loss wages?
Submitted: 2 years ago via Cornell Legal Info Institute.
Category: Legal
Expert:  TexLaw replied 2 years ago.

Zachary D. Norris :

Hi

Zachary D. Norris :

I'd be happy to answer your question.

Customer:

hello

Zachary D. Norris :

Generally, when you settle a personal injury claim, it is personal property.

Zachary D. Norris :

Thus, even if you made a claim for loss of consortium or loss wages

Zachary D. Norris :

there can be no later designation of a settlement as anything other than for the personal injury

Zachary D. Norris :

The only time someone could claim that it is damages related specifically to the loss of consortium or lost wages is where there is a specific designation in the settlement or where there is a specific finding by a jury.

Zachary D. Norris :

In other words, I do not think you have to use the actual confidential settlement agreement.

Customer:

yes, but in this cas the soon to be ex were both party to the lawsuit. We had sued as a couple for medical malpractice that occur to me. The check was made payable to both her and I

Zachary D. Norris :

I think the burden is on the other party to prove that the personal injury settlement should be classified as marital property.

Zachary D. Norris :

There's the rub

Zachary D. Norris :

The settlement was for both of your claims

Customer:

the settlement agreement clearly state that it is for personal injury sustained by me.

Zachary D. Norris :

Ah, I see.

Zachary D. Norris :

Does it mention at all the ex's loss of consortium claim?

Customer:

no

Zachary D. Norris :

Interesting. Did the ex settle that claim separately

Zachary D. Norris :

?

Customer:

it specifically says for personal injury to xxxx my name

Customer:

which claim?

Zachary D. Norris :

The ex claimed loss of consortium?

Customer:

she agreed

Customer:

no....during the negotiation for settlements our lawyer advised her that it is best that we strictly make a claim for personal injury and exclude a claim for loss of consortium

Customer:

the settlement was a general release....we both signed it

Zachary D. Norris :

OK. Do you know if the petition/complaint filed with the court contained a claim by her for loss of consortium? She was a party to the original lawsuit?

Zachary D. Norris :

In regard to the use of a confidential settlement agreement, you can likely use it in the divorce proceedings if you obtain an order from the court allowing you to do so and request that the agreement be kept under seal only for the court's inspection.

Customer:

the originl petition/complaint MIGHT have included a claim for loss of consortium since we both sued the doctor,....I cannot think of any other basis she could have sued for since i was the one who was injured

Zachary D. Norris :

OK, since she was a party to the case, then it likely does. Are you proceeding pro se?

Customer:

i am considering proceeding pro se

Zachary D. Norris :

OK. You would need to file a Motion for Filing Records Under Seal with the court for use of the records in the litigation.

Zachary D. Norris :

In essence, you ask the court for permission to use a confidential settlement agreement for limited purposes, because both of you were parties to the agreement and thus there is no disclosure\

Zachary D. Norris :

You must state that there is no other way to go about getting the information.

Customer:

we had a separation agreement and wanted to do an uncontested divorce. That is an agreement that SHE drafted and then we both signed. Now she is reneging on the agreement and wants a contested divorce. She did not want any money and was keeping the house. Now she wants money AND the house. my strongest argument is to prove that the money was my personal injury. I am not sure how. Since I do not know if the settlement agreement being confidential is admissible

Customer:

ah ok...is that possiblity in Georgia?

Customer:

a possibility in Georgia as I am not in TX?

Zachary D. Norris :

It will be admissible as long as you ask that the record be kept under seal because it is confidential. And yes, it will be allowed in GA. It's the same procedure as in TX. Think of it this way, you were both parties to the confidential agreement, the divorce is between you two, so there is not any actual disclosure if the court keeps the record sealed.

Customer:

ah ok. i was under the impression that the settlement agreement was not admissible at all?

Customer:

because it is confidential....but wow

Customer:

that makes a lot of things easier

Zachary D. Norris :

It's admissibility depends on what you are trying to use it for. Generally, a settlement agreement will not be admissible to prove the fault of an underlying action, or to prove prior bad acts. In this case, you are using it to prove the characterization of assets

Zachary D. Norris :

So, it should be admissible.

Customer:

ah ok....awesome....but essentially wouldn't this just bring an end to the contested aspect of the case?

Customer:

since I would have prove that she has no claim on the money?

Customer:

and there is no children

Zachary D. Norris :

I would think it is conclusive evidence of the characterization of the money. However, you also have to look into whether there was commingling of marital funds, etc.

Zachary D. Norris :

It will be somewhat complicated.

Customer:

thans to God i deosited the check into my personal (non joint ) account

Zachary D. Norris :

Yes. Seems like you are in a good position to win that part of the argument. You will face additional challenges I'm sure regarding whether she is due any of the funds from your personal accounts

Zachary D. Norris :

But the use of the settlement agreement should go far into proving up that there is a portion of those assets that are completely yours

Zachary D. Norris :

Have I answered your question?

Customer:

Yes SIR!!!

Zachary D. Norris :

Great. Good luck.

Customer:

You have . My hope no is that this would resolve a big chunk of the problem.

Zachary D. Norris :

I hope so too. Stick to your guns on it.

Customer:

Yes sir. Thanks!!!

Zachary D. Norris :

If you are satisfied with my response. Let me know by clicking accept.

Zachary D. Norris :

Thanks

Expert:  TexLaw replied 2 years ago.
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Expert:  TexLaw replied 2 years ago.
It was a pleasure helping you and I wish you good luck on your case.

-Zachary D. Norris
TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4213
Experience: Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
TexLaw and 11 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you

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Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs