The Settlement Alliance

What Do My Mass Tort Clients Need to Consider?

What Do My Mass Tort Clients Need to Consider?

Nov 6, 2014

Mass tort cases can involve hundreds, sometimes thousands of claimants. Some claimants may have minor injuries, while others may have experienced life-altering injuries or the death of a loved one. For those receiving a settlement as the result of a mass tort claim, there are a number of important variables that need to be considered prior to accepting the settlement proceeds.

DON’T FORGET: if you, your firm, or your client gets constructive receipt of the settlement proceeds, your client’s options become severely limited. Attorneys involved in mass tort cases might want to consider the benefits of using a qualified settlement fund to hold the settlement proceeds until claimants have the opportunity to make informed decisions about how to handle their individual settlement proceeds.

Consideration #1: Protecting Government Benefits

Depending on the size of the settlement recovery, the acceptance of a lump sum could affect your client’s eligibility for government benefits. These types of benefits include those that are means-tested, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Section 8 Housing, and Food Stamps. Means-tested benefits have income and/or asset tests and a lump sum could adversely affect your client’s ability to maintain their eligibility. There are tools and strategies that can both protect benefits eligibility and preserve the settlement proceeds.

Consideration #2: Preserving the Settlement Proceeds

One of the biggest hindrances that claimants face post-settlement is the preservation of the recovery. Post-settlement can be a very unnerving time, and the prospect of having to handle a large sum of money can be overwhelming. Too many claimants make the mistake of assuming that a lump sum is their best option, not realizing how quickly that money can be spent, leaving no funds for future medical and financial needs. Luckily, your client has options:

Structured Settlements

Injured claimants have the option to place all or a portion of their settlement in a tax-free structured settlement annuity. In addition to the tax-free feature, structured settlements offer many benefits, including guaranteed long-term income, safeguarding against dissipation of the proceeds, and protection of government benefits eligibility. They are among the most flexible settlement tools in terms of design, allowing claimants to create a stream of payments that fits their individual needs.

Trusts

Trusts can help preserve the settlement recovery and protect eligibility for government benefits; however, each type of trust has its own set of requirements. There are numerous options, including Special Needs Trusts, Settlement Protection Trusts, Minor’s Trusts, and Medicare Set-Aside Trusts. The best choice is dependent on the needs of the claimant and should be selected with the help of an experienced professional. The choice of trustee (a trusted friend/family member, a private fiduciary, or a corporate trustee) is particularly important, as the management of the trust must be done to meet the best interests of the beneficiary.

If you have a client involved in a mass tort case, make sure you connect them with an experienced settlement planning firm prior to the case resolution. The settlement firm will educate your client on their many options and will help them develop a plan that provides for their medical and financial needs.

We are proud to partner with the highest rated structured settlement providers in the industry:

  • American general Life Companies
  • Berkshire Hathaway Structured Settlements
  • Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston
  • MetLife
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • New York Life
  • Pacific Life
  • Prudential