When it comes to settlement, each side should engage their own experts. The claimant is entitled to representation by a plaintiff-loyal settlement professional, rather than relying solely on a defense broker engaged by the liability insurer or self-insured defendant. Most defense brokers have alliances with the liability insurer, meaning they have a conflict of interest in working on behalf of your client.
What is the Defense Broker’s Responsibility?
When the defense brings in their settlement expert, that individual has a fiduciary responsibility only to the defendant. The defense broker is under no obligation to present options that are in the best interest of the claimant. Moreover, the defense broker will be released from all future liability when your client releases the defendant, the liability insurer, and their agents. Who will you turn to if the defense broker made an error or omission? Rather than risking a legal malpractice claim, it is wise to engage your own expert.
Working with a Plaintiff Settlement Planner
Using a settlement planner to represent the claimant is the best way to ensure that a detailed, comprehensive plan is designed to maximize the value of their settlement proceeds. The plaintiff settlement planner is your expert and will quarterback the process, performing several duties that include:
- Presenting all settlement options: Instead of simply presenting the claimant with a cash lump sum, a settlement planner will assess all viable options. Depending on the specific needs of the claimant, a structured settlement or special needs trust may provide better long-term financial stability.
- Maximizing the payout: A settlement planner will consider potential pricing breaks on structured settlements such as daily rates and age ratings that leverage benefits.
- Recommending an appropriate amount to structure: If the claimant elects to utilize a structured settlement, the settlement planner can help determine immediate vs. future cash needs and will recommend the most appropriate amount to structure.
- Competent guidance: The settlement planner can provide guidance on the potential consequences of accepting cash settlement proceeds including tax implications, changes to government benefit eligibility, and the impact of disbursement on any existing liens or probate issues.
The plaintiff settlement planner is also the gateway to a variety of experts, including estate planning attorneys, corporate trustees, government benefit experts, and more. Competent direction and guidance with all aspects of the settlement plan can save the plaintiff attorney valuable time.
What’s the Right Time to Involve a Plaintiff Settlement Planner?
Having a plaintiff settlement planner work with the plaintiff early in the case can provide valuable benefits to you and your client. A settlement is often the biggest financial transaction of your client’s life, and financial planning decisions are unique to each claimant. Early engagement of the settlement planner allows them the opportunity to assess the claimant’s current and future needs, to present all available settlement options, and to help resolve any issues that may delay the claimant’s receipt of the settlement proceeds. In addition to initial meetings, the settlement planner can also attend mediation or at the very least, remain on-call during the mediation to help answer any questions. Many decisions, such as electing to use a structured settlement, must be made before finalizing the settlement agreement.
Contact our experienced settlement planners to learn more
The ALLIANCE-WEST team has assisted thousands of injured claimants in developing comprehensive settlement plans to meet their needs. For more information, contact us today at 800-354-2258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.