Friday is the second anniversary of the BP explosion and oil spill that killed 11 workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig and sent nearly five million gallons of oil into the gulf. Last month, we all read about the estimated $7.8 billion settlement reached on behalf of thousands of claimants for economic loss and medical claims as a result of the disaster.
This is good news for the fisherman, shrimpers, crabbers and many others who have struggled for the past two years with little to no income. There is little doubt in my mind that they have been through the ringer, confused, abused and trapped in legal mayhem to reach this point.
But, after they receive their checks in the mail, I fear disaster will strike again. These folks will be bombarded with emails, calls and letters offering them cash for their settlement by television/internet factoring companies. The sad part is, many will accept pennies on the dollar because they don’t need stability for the long-term, they need stability, in the form of cash, now.
In the past few years, as the economy has tanked, there has been a growing trend among former plaintiffs to sell their structured settlement in the secondary market if and when they hit financial trouble. We need to get the word out to these BP claimants, and all former plaintiffs, that they don’t have to accept low settlement purchase offers. If we as lawyers do a better job at educating plaintiffs about choice, and the value of getting multiple bids if they ever face the decision to sell their structured settlement, we can help them avoid this abuse.
Hank Didier co-founded Vantage Capital Consultants to help plaintiffs and purchase structured settlements fairly if needed.