Miami Car Accident Attorneys Dell & Schaefer Settle Case for $100,000

Woman Separates From Husband But Never Finalizes Divorce

Did you know that in Florida your spouse has a potential loss of consortium claim if you were involved in an accident? A loss of consortium claim in Florida means that an injured person’s spouse, even though he may not have been involved in the accident, can still file a claim against the defendant’s insurance company for any deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship. This means that if my wife was involved in an accident, that I can also file a claim if he has deprived my wife and I of the benefits of a family relationship. Separating from your spouse does not destroy the other spouse’s ability to file a loss of consortium claim. Because a spouse can also have a claim, most insurance companies require both spouses to sign any releases before paying any money for a victim’s injuries. This can be a big roadblock in a law firm’s ability to settle a case, especially if two people are separated and not legally divorced.

Our client, who was a 19-year-old female, was married when she was 18. Within one year of her marriage, she had separated from her husband. Her and her husband stopped speaking to one another. A year after the marriage, she was involved in a very serious accident that required back surgery. After the surgery was complete, our firm filed a demand letter with the insurance company to settle the claim. We were able to settle the claim for the policy limits of $100,000.

The Insurance Company Requires The Spouse’s Signature

The insurance company sent us a release for our client to sign before paying out the $100,000. On the release it listed the name of her husband to sign since the husband had a potential loss of consortium claim. Our firm was unaware that our client was married. When we signed up the case, we asked our client if she was married and she told us that she was not married. She had figured that the marriage was a big mistake in her life, she had already separated in less than a year, and since they did not speak anymore, she did not feel the need to inform us she was married. But insurance companies have access to databases where they can ascertain marital status and they did so in this case.

Our client demanded that we settle the claim without having to contact her husband, but we were unable to do so. As a result, our client had to track down her husband. When she finally found him she asked him to sign the documents releasing his loss of consortium claim. When he questioned her how much the case settled, she initially refused to tell him since she thought he would then try to haggle her for money from the settlement. Since she refused to tell him the amount, the husband refused to sign the documents. She finally told him the case settled for $100,000 and the husband immediately refused to sign unless he received half the settlement.

Our Client Agrees To Pay Her Husband From The Settlement

Knowing that any pending divorce proceeding would list the settlement as a potential marital asset, our client decided to pay her husband from the settlement. After lengthy negotiations, our client agreed to pay her husband $20,000 from the settlement. Although she was relieved that everything resolved, she learned a valuable lesson in life that if you separate from your spouse with the intent of permanently ending the relationship, you must always seek a legal divorce. A simple divorce is very cheap in South Florida, and because she tried to skip the divorce proceedings to save a couple thousand dollars, she ended up losing $20,000 from her settlement.

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