Posts tagged #Wahlstrom

MSA solutions for plaintiff attorneys. How to handle Medicare set aside accounts in 2016.

The Legal Broadcast Network is devoting much of it's production and shows in December 2015 to the study of issues related to social security, medicare and governmental benefits as it relates to trial lawyers and liability claims. The first of these conversations looks at the issue of MSA's, also known as Medicare Set Aside accounts, which address the future offsets to Medicare for personal injury victims who settle their case knowing they currently or in the future are a Medicare beneficiary and that they need, by law, to put aside funds covering medical expenses related to their injury settlements. 

Jack Meligan, chairman of Settlement Professionals Inc, of Portland, OR joins Mark Wahlstrom to discuss the on going questions and misinformation around the issue of Medicare set aside accounts. MSA's, as they are commonly referred to are one of the most misunderstood and confusing liability issues for attorneys, but as this interview makes clear, these are established on an entirely voluntary basis as there is currently no law or regulation that requires them to be established. This voluntary act thus makes it essential that the trial lawyer inform their client and get an MSA firm that specializes in plaintiff solutions to work on the valuation and planning for this important part of a settlement plan.


Learn more about our guest, Jack Meligan by going to http://settlepro.com

Posted on December 5, 2015 and filed under Medicare Set Aside.

ELNY lawsuit reveals no fiduciary duty to plaintiffs by defense structured settlement brokers

COURT CASE MAKES CLEAR, DEFENSE STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT BROKERS HAVE NO FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY TO PLAINTIFFS. SO WHY WOULD ANY TRIAL LAWYER USE A DEFENSE BROKER NOW?
 

In this week's video commentary, I take a deeper look at the issues being revealed in last week's decision in USDC of Oregon. A decision in which defense brokers argued, and the court agreed, that no fiduciary relationship exists between a defense structured settlement broker and the injured plaintiff who relies upon their advice regarding the selection of the life company that funds their injury settlement.

Knowing this is the position of the brokers and courts, the question now becomes, why would any trial lawyer settle a case using a structured settlement where they did not engage a plaintiff broker who would have a clear fiduciary responsibility to the injured party? Have trial lawyers been so seduced by years of financial contributions to trial lawyer associations from defense structured settlement firms, or has it just become routine to deal with one broker and to not bother with engaging your own expert? 

I also discuss the increasing outside scrutiny of the process by which political figures in New York decided to liquidate ELNY and why that process is still shrouded in secrecy two years after it occurred. I believe it is time for trial lawyers to stop passively taking at face value the defense industry narrative on how structured settlements are used, sold and funded when it comes to assisting your injured clients. Trial lawyers have the right to engage experts, create Qualified Settlement Funds and control the process by which the financial settlement decisions are made for you and your clients, so why aren't they doing it?

Posted on December 18, 2014 .

Single claimant Qualified Settlement Funds (QSF), fools gold for plaintiff settlement planners

In this weeks edition of Speaking of Settlements I follow up on my previous commentary where I discussed some of my concerns regarding an industry push to curtail the markets available to underwrite single claimant qualified settlement funds. In the prior commentary I took to task the defense brokers and our profession's unfortunate tendency to force market changes on pro-plaintiff products and access to professionals with out a open and transparent dialogue on the consequences of those actions.  

Single claimant QSF, Fools Gold for plaintiff attorneys

Single claimant QSF, Fools Gold for plaintiff attorneys

This week I discuss the often careless, and frequently dishonest, method's certain plaintiff experts have used to try and justify the use of a single claimant case to settle a personal injury matter, when often the only true motivation for the QSF is simply taking control of the structured settlement funding process away from the defendant. The plaintiff experts who push the single claimant settlement fund strategy as an effective planning tool are selling "fools gold" to their attorney clients and thanks to recent changes at the life markets, now run the risk of profound professional embarrassment by continuing this tactic.

As someone who has worked exclusively as a plaintiff settlement expert for over 25 years now, I have a personal understanding of why plaintiff brokers and trial lawyers feel so aggrieved about the process of structured settlements and what they frequently view as excessive defense control and interference in the process. I get it, we have all been strong armed out of cases and our clients have been forced into life markets and structures by brokers who they never chose to work with. However, the answer to that process should not be the careless and casual use of the IRC 468B qualified settlement fund process so as to add additional expense, process and potential IRS audit scrutiny to the settlement procedure simply so they don't have to split a commission with a defense broker. 

As I mention in this weeks commentary, there is plenty of blame to go around for the past, but we can't continue to live in the past, we need to move forward. However, the result of this over reach by plaintiff brokers on single claimant cases has now led to a situation where there are no life companies that will underwrite a structure on a single claimant case, forcing brokers to look at alternative products or approaches, or to go back to their clients and explain how their time and funds on setting up a QSF were wasted.  

As I discussed last week, the purpose of a Qualified Settlement Fund should be to administer a multi-claimant case in cost effective and compliant fashion so as to provide the best planning option to MULTIPLE claimants. Single claimant cases should be legal but used on truly exceptional cases, not as a short cut to close defendants out of the process. There is little to be gained by past practices on BOTH sides of this issue and eventually there needs to be a set of industry standards developed and agreed to by all stakeholders or we run the risk of further shrinking our profession in both numbers of brokers, life markets and premium written.  

Posted on April 29, 2013 .