Lead Paint Victims Screwed Again
In a stirring new article, the Washington Post, writes about how victims of lead paint poisoning in Baltimore have lost millions of their settlements by selling them for immediate cash. This is a truly horrific turn of events for someone who has already suffered the effects of lead paint such as reduced brain function which makes it hard to support and care for one self.
In one staggering story, a Baltimore woman received a settlement worth $574,000 payable in $1,000.00 monthly installed spread over 35 years. She sold the settlement for $63,000.00! Just think about that for one second. An income stream of $1,000.00 guaranteed for 35 years reduced to a measly $63,000.00. Wow! What happens when the money runs out? The diminished mental health capacity is still there. Earning potential is still impaired. A vulnerable party is victimized once again.
Litigation funding and settlement sales are familiar territory for attorneys like myself who work with victims of lead poisoning and other negligence cases such as car accidents. Attorneys know all too well the high cost of such funding and in my experience caution against such transactions. Nevertheless, it is common for a client to contact their lawyer seeking information about their case so that they can get some immediate funding. It ends costing them more than they realize.
I am normally one to limit the scope of government, but more ought to be done to protect victims of lead paint poisoning and others who receive substantial settlements. There is a requirement in Maryland that an attorney signs off on the purchase, but no requirement that the owner of the settlement demonstrate an understanding of the complicated financial decision they are making. This article clearly shows that something ought to change.
Lead paint settlements are hard fought and often not enough to compensate the harm caused. How do you compensate a human being for a lifetime of reduced mental capacity? Therefore, it is sad to see those funds not benefit the victim and instead go to a third party.
If you have a settlement and are tempted to sell. Consider paying a knowledgeable financial adviser to educate you on the implications and explore all of your options. The money you pay upfront is well worth it.