If you’ve been involved in a lawsuit and experienced major injuries, you may be worrying about your financial situation. You may be struggling to pay your regular monthly bills if you’re unable to work, such as rent or mortgage, utility bills, credit card bills, and car payments. You may also be accumulating more medical bills as treatment for your injury continues.
In these circumstances, it can seem like a long road until a decision is made about your lawsuit and the settlement money awarded. One solution to help you survive this difficult time until you have your lawsuit settlement is to get pre-settlement funding. If you don’t understand the litigation funding process, you may wonder if you need your personal injury attorney to consent to the pre-settlement funding.
Understand How the Personal Injury Lawsuit Process Works
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another, you may qualify for compensation for your medical expenses and other costs. You can seek that compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. You will need to find a personal injury law firm who will review your claim and determine if you have a case.
If the attorney agrees to take your case, they will begin compiling evidence to support your personal injury claim. This may include hiring expert witnesses, interviewing other witnesses, reviewing documentation, and asking you questions. This stage can take several months before the case is ready to go to court.
Going to Court
Once the case goes to court, both sides will have the opportunity to plead their case. Afterwards, the judge or jury will make a decision as to whether the plaintiffs should be awarded for their losses. This process can take months to complete.
Even after the decision has been made, it can be another month or longer before you receive the settlement funds. Other bills must be paid once a check is issued. For many personal injury cases, you can expect the entire process to take well over a year. All this time, your medical bills and other financial obligations are adding up.
Getting Pre-Settlement Funding
If you’re feeling stressed about your circumstances as you await the outcome of the lawsuit, you may want to consider pre-settlement funding. These agreements can provide much-needed financial support until you have your settlement funds.
The Process for Consumer Legal Funding
The first step is to find a reputable consumer legal funding company. You will discover many companies online that offer pre-settlement funding, but they aren’t all the same. Some will have higher charges, hidden fees, and other features that make them a bad choice. You’ll want to search for a legal funding company that is fair and transparent.
You can apply online to find out if you qualify. The legal funding company will review your application to determine whether to approve it or not. Once you are approved, the next step is to have you sign the documents, so that they can provide the agreed-upon funds.
Does Your Lawyer Need to Approve Pre-Settlement Funding?
All consumer legal funding companies require you to have an attorney on your personal injury case. One reason for this requirement is because of the risk involved. You will need your attorney’s consent to get any type of lawsuit pre-settlement funding.
Who Bears the Risk of Pre-Settlement Funding?
Consumer legal fundings are known as non-recourse fundings, which means the funding company doesn’t have any recourse if they don’t receive repayment from the settlement funding. They carry all the risk with legal funding because they can’t get the money from the plaintiff.
Why Legal Fundings May Not Get Repaid
The majority of lawsuits aren’t awarded to the plaintiff. It takes a strong case for the personal injury claim to win in court. If the lawsuit doesn’t result in an award, the legal funding company won’t receive any money back.
Another issue is that the amount awarded may be different from the amount requested in the claim. The judge or jury may decide to award a lower amount to the plaintiff, which may not be enough to cover all expenses. The legal funding company may not receive as much as they paid to the plaintiff. Certain expenses are paid first, which may mean there aren’t enough funds to pay all creditors.
Lawsuit Funding Companies Work with the Attorney
To prevent taking on more risk than necessary, the funding company will communicate with the attorney to find out information about the case. Having a law firm represent you proves that the personal injury claim has merit. It also allows them to find out important details, such as how much is being requested in the case and how close it is to being resolved. The attorney may also be negotiating with the defendant during this time, which could result in a lower payment or a quicker payout.
The Lawyer Makes Payment
When your claim is awarded, the settlement funds go to your attorney rather than straight to you. The attorney will put the money in an escrow account until the check clears. They will begin issuing payment to the creditors in order of priority. The pre-settlement funding company will likely have a lien against the lawsuit to ensure they get paid before other lower priority creditors.
How to Get Approved for Pre-Settlement Funding
To get approved for pre-settlement funding, you will need to apply and have a strong case. The amount you’re approved for will depend on how much you are expected to receive for your lawsuit.
Most litigation funding companies will only approve about 10 to 20 percent of the expected award amount. So, if you have a lawsuit for $500,000, you could get approved for around $50,000. If the total award amount is only $50,000, your pre-settlement funding wouldn’t be more than $5000 in most cases.
What to Know Before You Apply for Pre-Settlement Funding
Before you choose a pre-settlement funding company, you need to read the fine print. You’ll want to be aware of any hidden fees or upfront fees you are expected to pay and avoid those funding companies.
While most legal funding companies won’t ask for any repayment during the life of the funding, you want to make sure the paperwork you sign doesn’t make you liable for paying any interest or other responsibilities that could get you in trouble.
The pre-settlement funding company shouldn’t rely on your credit score. Your credit history, employment history, or income aren’t generally part of the criteria to qualify for legal funding.
Another factor to keep in mind when deciding to apply for pre-settlement funding is how far along in the litigation process you are. If you’re just getting started on your personal injury case, the value for your lawsuit will be much lower. If you’re closer to being awarded, the value for pre settlement funding goes up. If you can wait until closer to the end of the lawsuit process, you may find it easier to get legal funding.
What If the Lawyer Denies the Pre-Settlement Funding Options?
You cannot qualify for any legal funding without an attorney signature. The legal funding company will use the application process to get the attorney’s signature before issuing any immediate cash to the borrower.
Your attorney isn’t required to approve any pre-settlement funding options. It’s best to talk to them before starting the application process. Discuss with them your need for money to cover living expenses and other financial assistance until you can receive your settlement to help ensure your attorney’s consent.
It is your attorney’s job to protect the injured victims and their client’s money that will be received. You will need to have them on board to qualify for legal funding.
Valid Reasons Not to Approve Pre-Settlement Funding
An attorney may have a valid reason to deny your request for legal funding. For example, you may have exceeded the number of legal fundings you are allowed. It may be too early to fund the claim, which means you would have to apply again later for litigation funding.
Another reason for denial is that your attorney doesn’t work with litigation funding companies. If this is the case, you won’t be able to get funding at any point in the process.
How to Avoid Being Turned Down for Legal Funding
To avoid getting turned down for legal funding, you should speak to your attorney first. Discuss with them your need for money for living expenses and why you want to apply for legal funding. They will offer legal advice and may even know some reputable pre-settlement funding companies to apply with.
If you have applied and been turned down, work with your attorney to improve your case, so that you can get approved the next time. Remember that part of the criteria used to approve pre-settlement funding is the strength of the case and the timeline for awards as well as the expected settlement.
As you get closer to the end of your claim, you have a better chance at approval with lawsuit funding companies. You’ll also incur fewer fees because the time for repayment is much shorter.
Don’t Ask Your Attorney for Money
You can’t legally ask your attorney for a cash advance on your claim. They aren’t allowed to loan money to clients based on a lawsuit they are representing. This is seen as a conflict of interest. However, in most states they can work with you to get legal funding, so that you have the money you need until you receive your settlement.
How You are Protected with Litigation Funding
With a pre-settlement funding, you are protected from recourse if you don’t win the lawsuit. As stated before, the pre-settlement funding company bears all the risk. You don’t have to pay back the funding or make any payments during the lawsuit process.
You are also protected because pre-settlement lawsuit funding isn’t like a traditional loan. You don’t have to qualify on your financial ability, and you don’t need good credit.
As part of the pre-settlement funding process, the legal funding company will look at the case to determine whether to approve the application. Even if you’ve been turned down for traditional loans because of financial issues from your injury, you can still qualify for legal funding with a lawsuit funding company.
If you have been the victim of an accident and are seeking a settlement from another party, you could qualify for pre-settlement funding with a lawsuit funding company. Talk to your law firm to determine if this is the best option to help you out financially until you receive your settlement or award.
Oasis provides pre-settlement funding, also known as consumer litigation funding, to its customers through different products depending on their state of residence or cause of action. Many consumers will be provided pre-settlement funding in the form of a purchase agreement, which assigns a portion of the pending proceeds from their legal claim. Other consumers, such as those in CO, IL, MN, MO, SC, WI and some OK residents, will be offered a funding in the form of a pre-settlement loan, sometimes referred to as a lawsuit loan. These transactions have important differences, therefore, consumers should carefully review and be aware of the type of transaction that is offered to them by any funding company.