The procedures and paperwork involved with a lawsuit can be overwhelming for plaintiffs, and so it is easy for them to forget certain strategies that seem simple but can actually have a huge impact on their case. A few smart strategies to keep in mind include:
Keep records of all communication. This is true for both public and private communication. The plaintiff may need to present evidence of communication with the defendant or even general communication around the time of the lawsuit to help back up facts and develop a timeframe. The plaintiff needs to be prepared in case the defense presents their own documented communication by having their own records to make sure the conversations are being accurately presented. Plaintiffs should keep copies of letters, emails, and other conversations because they can never be sure what could be used to help or hurt them.
Make sure the all the facts can be clearly represented. Along with keeping records of communication, plaintiffs should carefully document dates and other important details, no matter how confident they are in their case. Lawsuits can drag on for years, so plaintiffs can’t be sure what direction the case will go in and what they will need to present as proof. A year into the lawsuit, the plaintiff could find that they need a certain document that they didn’t think was important when the lawsuit started and if they can’t locate it, their case may suffer. Before the lawsuit even starts, all pertinent information should be gathered and kept in a safe place.
Stay out of the red. Another huge and often overlooked strategy is making sure that all bills are kept up with and that the plaintiff isn’t struggling to keep afloat financially. It is overlooked because many plaintiffs don’t understand not only how the stress of struggling to pay bills can distract them from focusing on the lawsuit, but that they want to be able to have the financial freedom to fight the lawsuit to a satisfying and fair conclusion. The plaintiff shouldn’t be pressured into accepting a lower offer just because they have medical bills or other necessary expenses hanging over them.
One financial option available is a lawsuit loan. When plaintiffs use lawsuit loans, they are taking an advance on their future settlement to help make payments as the case progresses. A common situation for plaintiffs is that they are out of work because of a personal injury or workplace related incident and are relying on the lawsuit to help pay the damages. Even if the plaintiff isn’t out of work, medical bills and other expenses can put a stress on them during the lawsuit. But until the case concludes, life’s necessities must still be taken care of—grocery bills, car and mortgage payments, utilities—on top of expenses related to the accident. Lawsuit loans can provide plaintiffs with financial relief and help them focus on their lawsuit.
About the Author: Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit www.smpadvance.com.
For some people who are in financial crisis, a pre-settlement personal injury loan or advance may be a good option. While the interest rates are much higher than typical bank loans, the ability to obtain quick financing without the need for employment verification or credit checks, can make this medium attractive. Typically there are no monthly payments required and payment is only due upon the resolution of the underlying lawsuit. In many cases if the person loses their claim there is no obligation to pay back to lender.
To begin the process you will need to complete an online application or application over the phone with the pre-settlement advance company of your choice. Once the application is completed the company will contact your attorney to verify the information you had provided and also obtain additional details about the pending case. This information along with your application will next be reviewed by the company’s underwriting staff. If the company feels your lawsuit has sufficient value an offer will be made to advance or loan money against your case. Usually companies will not offer more than 10% of what they believe is the total value of the claim. If you accept the offer, you will need to sign a funding contract and disbursement instructions (where you want the money to go).
In order to obtain a settlement loan you will need to have a valid claim (i.e. personal injury lawsuit, workers’ compensation claim). Also, you will need to be represented by an attorney and must live in state where the settlement or judgment proceeds will first go to your attorney for disbursement as opposed to you directly. Further, your attorney’s cooperation in this process is essential. He or she must be willing to provide information about your case and if an advance is made, sign a document acknowledging the same. Finally, settlement advance companies will not allow duplicate advances on one case from different companies. This is known as “advance stacking” or “loan stacking.” If you already have a settlement advance from one company and apply for a second advance with another company you may not receive approval, unless some of money from the second advance is used pay off your prior first advance obligation.
A couple of states have now passed legislation imposing regulation on settlement funding companies (Maine and Ohio) and at least two others (Illinois and Kentucky) are currently contemplating legislation. If you live in one of these states you should verify that the settlement loan company you are working with is either licensed by the state or complies with the particular state’s statute.
There are dozens of companies that offer settlement loan. Not all of them are the same. Many offer varying rates and have high up front administrative charges. Many charge interest that compound monthly or structure the advance in high appreciating increments (i.e. every 6 months the finance charge increases an additional 25% to 50% of the original advance). Since many of these companies do not consider a settlement advance as a true loan, they do not comply with the disclosure requirements of the Federal Truth In Lending Act. This can make comparison between companies difficult. The consumer should therefore should ask specific questions about rates, administrative charges and how interest compounds. It may be easier for the consumer to compare between companies by determining what would be due using various time periods (6 months, 1 year, etc…). This should help make comparison between companies easier. The consumer should also compare the upfront administration charges and make sure the company is licensed (if the consumer lives in an applicable state).
Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com.