As settlement planners, we often get phone calls from attorneys at mediation conferences asking us to help evaluate structured settlement proposals being offered by the defense. At this late stage of the game, our advice is generally to simply negotiate for a present value amount and not agree to any specific structured annuity proposal. We recommend that you make sure that the settlement memorandum clearly states that you have your own settlement planning expert and any potential structured settlement will be designed by and funded through your expert. Inserting such language in the settlement memorandum will give you and your client time after the stress of mediation to calmly consider the plaintiff’s needs and goals and to create a suitable settlement plan.
However, the approach outlined above is meant as a last resort and should only be used if you find yourself at mediation realizing that you have not yet contacted your settlement planner about the case.
Settlement planners are often used after, or even during mediation, but can also be a valuable resource to plaintiff attorneys preparing for mediation. If involved before mediation, your settlement planner can provide you with valuable information in the form of a settlement packet that can help substantiate or even increase your settlement demand.