You have probably seen any number of commercials that target people with structured settlements – specifically, that a person with a structured settlement might need money right away, and that certain companies can help them obtain that money. According to the Washington Post, the Maryland Court of Appeals has just issued a Court Rule that will drastically alter how those companies conduct business – and it will be to the betterment of the victims, not the businesses.
The Post says that “companies interested in buying payments belonging to recipients of so-called structured settlements will now need to file significantly more information so that judges can better decide whether a proposed deal is in a recipient’s best interests.” The motivation behind the decision comes from a “report published by The Washington Post in August that exposed how structured settlement companies have made millions by targeting Baltimore victims of lead-paint poisoning.” The ability for these purchasing companies to make money off of victims could decline dramatically as a result.
What is a structured settlement?
When you are hurt or made ill, and are awarded a settlement to cover your medical expenses, your lost wages and your pain and suffering, you have the option of accepting that compensation in one lump sum or in designated payouts over a period of years, known as a structured settlement. The purpose of a structured settlement is to help people who may not have the cognitive abilities or the resources to manage such a large amount of money efficiently. By paying out parts of the settlement each year, the victim is more likely to be protected throughout his or her life.
Enter the companies that buy the settlements, offering to give the victims a sum of money right away in exchange for all of the future payments. These companies prey on the most vulnerable victims in Maryland (like they did with the Baltimore victims of lead paint poisoning), often only offering a fraction of the total value of the future payments, sometimes as little as one-third of the total future value.
Working on behalf of victims
This Rule by the Court of Appeals is so important because it stands up for the rights of Baltimore personal injury victims who are being targeted by these companies. It forces these companies to be more transparent about what they will do and how, and demands that anyone who agrees to sell their settlement must be given legal counsel by someone who is on their side and must appear before a judge to be informed of what they are giving up. It adds regulations so that judges throughout Maryland will have a better, more thorough understanding of what these companies will do, and whether or not it will truly benefit the recipients of structured settlements.
At Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A., we fight for justice on behalf of injury victims every day. This latest rule is a much-needed step in helping people take back control over their lives. We urge our legislators to look into this very important issue, and to codify these regulations to help protect the people who need protection the most.
Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. provides comprehensive legal counsel to personal injury victims in Maryland. If you have been injured through the negligence of another person, please contact us to schedule an appointment with a dedicated Baltimore personal injury lawyer.