Can I Sue My Soon-To-Be Ex-Spouse for A Personal Injury?
Your marriage is ending. Your divorce will soon be finalized. But what if your soon-to-be former spouse injured you during your marriage? What if your spouse physically abused you? Can you sue your soon-to-be ex for a personal injury that you suffered during your marriage?
The short answer is “yes.” But this being law, there are some complications.
Interspousal Tort Immunity
There was a time when it was difficult for spouses to sue each other, even when they were ending their marriages. That’s because of something called interspousal tort immunity. The theory was that if spouses were allowed to take each other to court, this would destroy family harmony. The law also viewed spouses as a single legal entity once they were married. Because of this, they could not sue each other.
Today, though, this rather old-fashioned legal view no longer holds. Spouses are allowed to sue each other. And if you claim that your soon-to-be ex-spouse has harmed you physically, you are certainly able to bring that spouse to court.
Proving Physical Abuse
The good news is that it is generally easier to prove that your spouse caused you physical injury than it is to prove that this same person caused you emotional injury. It’s easier to win when you are making an assault and battery claim against your spouse rather than claiming mental or emotional distress. The evidence of physical abuse, after all, often presents a dramatic visual, evidence that is easier to present to a court.
Emotional and Mental Suffering
Your physical abuse, of course, might also have lead to emotional and mental suffering. Again, though, proving this type of suffering is usually more difficult. It might seem obvious that someone who is physically injured by a spouse would suffer mental anguish. But courts don’t always agree. There isn’t the physical record of abuse that you’ll often see in injury claims.
It can help to hire an expert to testify on your behalf, to point out the emotional suffering victims of physical abuse routinely suffer. Such testimony can add important weight to your claim. Seek the guidance of a family law or personal injury attorney to find out more.
Timing such a legal action against your soon-to-be former spouse, though, could be a challenge. Filing for divorce and working through divorce proceedings is a time-consuming, stressful process. You might hesitate to file a lawsuit against your soon-to-be ex because you are already dealing with so much. But it might make sense legally to file a personal injury lawsuit while your divorce is ongoing.
If you do win your personal injury case before the divorce is finalized, your monetary winnings will usually be applied to the divorce settlement. If a court declares that you should receive $100,000 from the divorce and, before this divorce is finalized, you sue your soon-to-be ex-spouse and win an additional $100,000 in damages, you’ll receive a total of $200,000 once the divorce process ends. Filing your case before your divorce ends, then, could make the process of collecting your financial winnings an easier one.
Before you do take legal action against the person who will soon become your ex-spouse, it’s important to meet with a skilled personal injury attorney Cheverly MD trusts. This professional can help explain the basics of filing a claim and help you navigate the often-complex personal-injury process.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their insight into personal injury practice.