What is a structured settlement in a car accident case?

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A structured settlement pays an injury victim the compensation from his/her claim over time instead of in a single lump sum. Some injury victims opt for a structured settlement in a car accident case, while others end up with one through a court order.

Before you choose a structured settlement, or if the court ordered one in your case, there are a number of things you need to know about how this will affect your pay out.

At Max Meyers Law, we can help you understand the pros and cons of a structured settlement, and ensure you structure your settlement in a way that works for you and your family. Call our Kirkland office at 425-399-7000 to schedule a time to discuss your case with Washington State car accident lawyer Max Meyers.

Why do some injured parties use structured settlements in Washington State car accident claims?

Most victims receive car accident settlements in a lump sum payment. This type of payout offers the victim and his/her family quick access to a lot of money they likely need, but it also has a number of drawbacks. With an influx of cash, families often struggle to budget funds for long-term care and many run out of money long before the victim receives all the care s/he needs.

While you can choose your payment type, courts often order structured settlements when the victim is a minor. Because car accident settlements should cover the ongoing care costs of the victim, it is important to ensure the money is available when care is necessary. A structured settlement offers a steady influx of funds to cover these costs, without the family having to budget the money or worry about theft or fraud.

What does Washington law say about structured settlements?

Washington State offers protection for accident victims who receive structured settlements through the Structured Settlement Protection Act. This law requires a court review of any proposed structured settlement, and a number of mandatory disclosures, including:

  • A schedule for payments, including amounts and dates of transfer
  • The value of each payment, known as the “discounted present value”
  • Amount of any up-front cash payments
  • Any expenses stemming from the annuity

Many people worry about paying taxes on a Washington State personal injury settlement. However, this is not a concern you should stress about. Both a lump sum settlement and a structured settlement from a Kirkland car accident claim are tax-free. The compensation from most personal injury cases is non-taxable according to federal law.

Note: Compensation for lost wages is taxable.

Do I need a lawyer to help me with my structured settlement?

It is difficult to weigh all of the factors that come with taking a structured settlement, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. You will also need to consider how to design the structure to best suit your family’s current and future needs.

You will receive a part of your settlement immediately, to cover your current bills and to pay your attorney. Then, a broker will pay out the remainder of your settlement over a set time period, such as 20 years or the life of the victim. These payments typically come monthly.

Not every month has to be the same amount, though. Structured settlements offer a lot of leeway to include predictable expenditures. This allows you to build in options for things like replacing a wheelchair, paying for your child’s college tuition or other needs. However, it is important to design your settlement in a way that works well for your family. Once the structured settlement is in place, you cannot alter it.

For this reason, you should have a lawyer with structured settlement experience help work out the various complexities that come with a structured settlement.

Max Meyers Law: Your Kirkland Structured Settlement Lawyer

At Max Meyers Law, we can work with you to determine if a structured settlement is right for you. Our Kirkland car accident attorney can ensure you see the full picture of your family’s current financial situation and anticipate your future needs. Lastly, we can negotiate a structured settlement agreement that is fair and equitable.

Call our office today at 425-399-7000 to schedule a time to meet with Max Meyers, and discuss your Washington State car accident claim.
Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.