Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Settlement Loans

A settlement loan is often the last resort for plaintiffs who have initiated a process of costly litigation and cannot afford to see the process to an end. There are many expenses that may be beyond a plaintiff’s normal paying powers including medical bills, fees payable to expert witnesses and private investigators, court fees, outstanding rent, lost wages, etc.

Since many litigation processes can extend over periods as long as two to four years, such expenses pile up and may eventually present an insurmountable financial burden to the plaintiff. Unavailability of funding may result in the abandonment of the legal process, causing untold losses.

Settlement loans are made available to these plaintiffs by certain financial institutions such as insurance companies. Private or professional underwriters may also fund expenses incurred by a plaintiff during legal proceedings. There may or may not be a collateral for such a loan, but they are always given in anticipation of the plaintiff’s legal victory.

Attorneys are required to inform their clients of the availability of these loans if it seems that they are needed. In other words, the legal system supports settlement loans. This makes their provision a rather lucrative business for providers.

Banks, as a rule, do not extend settlement loans to plaintiffs. This may be because the provision of a settlement loan boils down to little more than mercenary exploitation – a financing institution like an insurance company may take advantage of the plaintiff’s helpless state by offering to extend a barely sufficient sum at extremely high rates of interest.

Moreover, such financing may come with various strangleholds attached that aren’t reveled until the last possible moment, disregarding the fact that a plaintiff may incur regular expenses throughout the intervening period.

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