All About a Structured Settlement

If you have been hurt in an accident, chances are you have hired an attorney to pursue your claim for compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering. This is a fairly common occurrence for those who have been put through the harrowing ordeal of having to endure an accident for which they were not at fault. For many years when a settlement was awarded to the victim, the amount of money that was awarded would go to the victim in the form of a lump sum. However, this is generally not the case anymore. Nowadays the more common manner of paying money to the injured party is in the form of a structured settlement.

What is a Structured Settlement?

In the simplest of terms, a structured settlement is a payment to the injured party made in regular installments over a period of time. This is different than getting a cash award in a lump sum up front. For example, if a person was in an accident and it was ruled that the other party was at fault, the other party may have to pay damages. If the amount was one million dollars, instead of a check being cut for one million dollars, it would be paid out in monthly installments over a period of a few years. For instance, a one million dollar settlement paid out monthly over ten years would mean a check paid to the inured party in an amount a little over eight thousand dollars per month. A structured settlement can vary as to how it is paid out. Some forms of structured settlement are paid out monthly and others annually.

Structured settlements first started to gain popularity in 1982 when Congress passed the Periodic Payment Settlement Act. This was introduced to allow settlements to be paid out over time in order to benefit both the party paying the claim as well as the victim. Those people who have had a personal injury due to an accident or who have had a worker’s compensation claim can benefit greatly by having the money from the settlement arrive in regularly scheduled amounts across a long period of time. A structured settlement is a good idea in most cases.

Benefits of a Structured Settlement

There are many long term benefits to having a structured settlement. First, the person who was injured and awarded the settlement is likely suffering from a debilitating injury that will forever affect their life and livelihood. This could be anything from a condition that makes life uncomfortable to a serious crippling injury that forever changes the person. Regardless of the severity of the injury the victim has to become used to living their life in a different manner. Adding to this the stress of dealing with a large sum of money they are not used to can make the transition even more difficult.

A structured settlement, though, can help alleviate some of the stress. It is especially difficult to manage a large sum of money if you will no longer be able to earn a living for the remainder of your life. Whatever sum of money you were awarded must be invested and used wisely in order to last throughout your lifetime. This is not always an easy feat. Often people have to hire financial advisors and investment advisors to keep track of and administer the money so it does not run out. With a structured settlement, though, this process becomes much more manageable.

Without a structured settlement, many victims had to rely on a third party. In a lot of cases, the money ran out quickly. This is for several reasons. The victim may have had poor spending habits. Faced with a large sum of money, they were not thinking about the future but instead were thinking of fun ways to spend a lot of money they never had before. Not long after that, they find the money is gone and they still have to live their life.

Another reason is because professionals were hired to advise and administer the money appropriately. Without some knowledge of financial endeavors, the victim may have hired someone incompetent or unreliable. The money would not be invested wisely and gone before they knew it. Another common reason is the victim relies on assistance from family members thinking they would have his best interests at heart. Unfortunately, this is often not the case and greed gets the better of the family member. A structured settlement reduces the risk of these issues substantially.

When is a Structured Settlement Best?

A structured settlement is not the answer for everyone. Some victims will prefer and benefit from a lump sum payment. However, there are very specific cases where a structured settlement is ideal for the victim. This generally occurs when the victim is in need of long term or permanent care. When an accident occurs that leaves a person unable to work and earn money for themselves over a long period of time, they will need the funds to care for themselves and whatever medical care is necessary. Whether it is an injury that will take a very long time from which to recover or a permanent disability that will prevent the victim from working for the duration of his life, a structured settlement is ideal in these situations.

For anyone who has any type of guardianship, a structured settlement is also a perfect solution. For example, if someone dies as a result of an accident through no fault of his own, a settlement may be awarded. However, the settlement is going to the victim’s family as opposed to the victim. The money may be used for funeral expenses and for the care of the surviving family, especially if the victim was the provider of the family’s income. Spouses and children are generally the beneficiaries of a structured settlement. Minor children can especially take advantage of the benefits of a structured settlement. Their housing, food and other every day expenses will be ensured. Plus, very often their education and college expenses will also be taken care of so they can lead a productive life even without the assistance of their loved one.

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