Here is the fourth and last installment of our "What Every Plaintiff and Attorney Should Know" series about lawsuit funding. Of the twenty questions and answers provided in this series of posts, perhaps the most important is that lawsuit funding’s best use is as a strategic tool. Use it to relieve financial pressure to settle cases too early for too little. Use it to save a valuable asset like your home or car. Use it for care or treatment to improve your condition, but only if there are no other sources available to pay for your needed care and treatment. Use it carefully and use it wisely. That said, here are the last five questions in the series; your comments are welcome:
16. Can I only seek seeking funding once? What if I need additional assistance later? As long as you have a pending lawsuit and the projected case value can handle the additional funding, you can receive an additional or multiple lawsuit cash advances. In fact, we recommend receiving smaller cash advances, over time, rather than receiving a larger, lump sum advance immediately, because doing so will save you money. Lawsuit Financial has additional money saving strategies for you and your attorney; feel free to call us or write us to discuss lawsuit funding strategy.
17. Once I am funded by a lawsuit funding company, does the company have any control or input as to how my case is handled or whether or not it is settled or tried? No, no…NO! The lawsuit funding company provides funding. After that, they have absolutely no control or input in how the attorney proceeds with the case. The legal finance company has no input on anything you or your lawyer determines is best for you and your case. The decision to settle or try the case, decisions on whether to accept or reject offers of settlement, decisions to arbitrate or mediate the case, all of these decisions (and any other decision involving your case) belong to you and your attorney. Lawsuit Financial does not interfere with the attorney-client relationship and we do not, in any way, shape or form involve ourselves with the management of your case. We fund, we take a passive interest, then we patiently await an outcome, good or bad. We do not second-guess your attorney. Our only involvement is to review limited records, make a funding decision, and fund or decline to fund.
18. Why can’t I get the money I need from my attorney? What do I need a lawsuit funding company for? Most states prohibit attorneys from loaning money to their clients. Attorneys are permitted to advance case costs for a client, but state ethics boards have almost unanimously prevented attorneys from loaning money to clients. The primary reason for this is because the ethics community wants attorneys to think only of the client and the client’s best interest, not about getting the attorney’s own money repaid. An attorney putting his own self-interest ahead of his/her, because of money he/she has loaned the client, is a conflict of interest and is prohibited. Lawsuit funding companies do not place themselves in a conflict position with the client. By contract, lawsuit funding companies take a passive interest in the case, are not involved in the decision making process, and, as such, do not pose conflict of interest situations.
19. Are these transactions confidential? That is an excellent question because confidentiality is an important bedrock of the attorney-client relationship. Most lawsuit funding companies will tell you that the process is confidential. But, the question is whether or not confidential information, if released to a lawsuit funding company, loses its confidential nature. Some argue that released information that was not intended for the defense can be discovered because it was released to a lawsuit funding company. Lawsuit Financial has two suggestions in this regard: 1. Your attorney should only release records that he/she knows will be released to the defense. 2. Lawsuit Financial is owned and operated by an attorney. Other lawsuit funding companies may be owned by financial services people. Lawsuit Financial views documents and opinions it receives as attorney-to-attorney confidential disclosures and will not reveal them under any circumstances. If your lawsuit funding company cannot make that statement, you need to find another lawsuit funding company.
20. What criteria will determine whether I get approved or denied? This is another very good question with a very simple answer. Whether you get approved or not is dependent entirely on the strength of your case. There are no other criteria. Credit standing, job status, asset to debt ratios, none of this matters. If your case has a “more likely than not” chance of success, it will probably qualify for funding. If a settlement or verdict is collectable (insurance proceeds available and sufficient) and your attorney is cooperative, you can and will be funded. A cooperative attorney is vital to the process, not only as to whether you get funded, but how quickly you get funded, as well. More and more attorneys are embracing this service because we provide litigants with staying power to see litigation through to a just conclusion. This not only increases the plaintiff’s share of the insurance proceeds, but the attorney fee, as well. The only party that benefits from the plaintiff settling too low because he/she needs money now, is the insurance company.
We hope you enjoyed and learned from this series; again, your comments and questions are welcome.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.