Brain-Damaged Veteran Loses Nearly All His Medical Care Funds In Divorce

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Simon VaughanSimon Vaughan

A brain-damaged British war veteran, who is unable to walk, lost nearly all of what was left of his $1.6 million injury compensation to his wife in their divorce.

Corporal Simon Vaughan’s vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in 2008, The Sun reported. The attack left him severely brain-damaged and unable to walk or speak properly.

Vaughan was awarded more than $1.6 million in compensation for his injuries.

In 2013, Vaughan and his wife separated and the fight over his compensation began. By law, she was entitled to make a claim on his compensation to help raise their two children, according to The Telegraph.

But much of the money had already been spent, and Vaughan feared he would have to sell his specially adapted bungalow in order to pay his wife her share of the compensation. The home was purchased outright in 2009, a year after Vaughan was injured, for more than $445,000 by his wife, reported The Telegraph. The property was found to be structurally unsafe, and his wife decided to tear it down and rebuild, at a cost of more than $450,000, according to Daily Mail. The money used for the rebuild came from Vaughan's compensation.

The two years of legal fees Vaughan faced in the divorce cost him, too.

Before Vaughan's divorce case went to trial, it was estimated that of his original compensation, around $302,000 remained.

Vaughan feared he would have to represent himself in the divorce proceedings.

“I am anxious about my future,” Vaughan said, according to The Sun. “I shouldn’t be in this position. But I have to watch everything I spend because I don’t know how much I have — or how much I will get from the compensation that’s left."

Vaughan’s compensation, which came from the Ministry of Defense and two private insurance policies, was intended to cover his medical care needs for the rest of his life.

Vaughan found legal help from Julian Ribet, a partner with Levison Meltzer Pigott, who told The Telegraph that his firm took the disabled veteran's case free of charge.

“Simon’s case raises a number of issues over the treatment of injury compensation and challenges current family law thinking in relation to the interpretation of financial ‘needs’ on divorce,” Ribet said. “We believe that it is for the public good that … [we] are able to identify and test these principles fully and for the wider benefit of others who may find themselves in a similar position to Simon.”

The court decision gave Vaughan the bungalow, but he must pay more than $2,200 of child support a month for his children, who he says are his priority, The Daily Mail reported. 

It's the amount of money he was ordered to pay his ex-wife that has reportedly caused a problem for the vet.

Vaughan had to pay his ex-wife more than $45,000 to offset negative equity in a property they owned that she was awarded in the divorce, reported Daily Mail. He also had to give her another $15,000 for expenses, such as buying a car.

His wife's legal fees of nearly $127,000 were also his responsibility, as were the court costs he accumulated of $42,000.

After Vaughan paid what the court said he owed, he was left with around $43,000 of the money that was meant to last him the rest of his life, according to Daily Mail.

As a result, he has had to scale down his physiotherapy sessions.

"It’s a setback because he was making such progress," Vaughan's mother, Lynne Baugh, told The Daily Mail. "We had hoped he’d be walking with a frame within two or three years."

Vaughan's wife declined a request for comment on the case but her attorneys released the following statement, according to Daily Mail: "This has been a difficult process for the Vaughan family, but Mrs Vaughan is pleased that a satisfactory outcome to the case for herself and her children has been reached."

Sources: The Telegraph, The Sun, The Daily Mail / Photo credit: The Telegraph