When someone is injured in an accident, they may have the option to receive a structured settlement instead of a lump sum payment. A structured settlement is a financial arrangement in which the plaintiff in a personal injury case receives a series of regular payments over time instead of a single lump sum. This type of settlement is becoming more popular in personal injury cases, and it’s important to understand how they work and why they might be a good option for your case.
How Structured Settlements Work
Structured settlements are typically created through a negotiation between the plaintiff and the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company. The defendant agrees to make regular payments to the plaintiff over a set period of time in exchange for the plaintiff dropping the lawsuit. The payments are usually made on a monthly or annual basis and can continue for a set number of years or for the plaintiff’s lifetime.
The structured settlement payments are often funded by an annuity, which is a financial product that provides a guaranteed income stream. The defendant or their insurance company purchases the annuity from an insurance company, and the annuity payments are then used to fund the structured settlement payments to the plaintiff. The plaintiff can choose how the payments are structured, such as receiving a larger payment at the beginning of each year or including cost-of-living adjustments to keep up with inflation.
Benefits of Structured Settlements
There are several benefits to choosing a structured settlement over a lump sum payment in a personal injury case. One of the main advantages is that it provides a guaranteed income stream for the plaintiff over time. This can be especially important if the plaintiff is unable to work due to their injuries, as it ensures that they will have a steady source of income to cover their expenses.
Structured settlements can also provide tax advantages for the plaintiff. In most cases, the payments are tax-free, which can save the plaintiff a significant amount of money over time. Additionally, the structured settlement payments are often protected from creditors, which can provide peace of mind for the plaintiff knowing that their settlement is safe from garnishment or other legal actions.
Considerations When Choosing a Structured Settlement
While structured settlements can be a good option for many plaintiffs in personal injury cases, there are some considerations to keep in mind. One of the main factors to consider is the length of the payment schedule. While a longer payment schedule can provide more financial security for the plaintiff, it can also mean that the payments may not keep up with inflation or changes in the plaintiff’s financial situation over time.
It’s also important to consider the fees associated with structured settlements. Annuities can come with fees and expenses that can reduce the overall value of the settlement. Additionally, the plaintiff may need to hire an attorney or financial planner to help negotiate the terms of the settlement and ensure that it is in their best interest.
Structured settlements can be a good option for plaintiffs in personal injury cases who are looking for a guaranteed income stream over time. They provide tax advantages and protection from creditors, but it’s important to carefully consider the length of the payment schedule and the fees associated with the settlement. If you are considering a structured settlement, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney or financial planner to ensure that you are making the best decision for your financial future.