Why is it important for plaintiff attorneys to retain their own structured settlement expert and settlement planner in a case?
On occasion, we’ll hear from one of our personal injury attorney clients that they thought about bringing us into a case at settlement, but since the defense had their own broker, they figured they would just use the defense broker for the annuity. We’re always a bit baffled by this. Why? Because during the entire course of litigation, they didn’t rely on any of the defense’s experts for any other aspects of the case . Now, as the case finally nears settlement, why would you let your guard down and trust the other side’s settlement planner or annuity broker?
Getting your own settlement planner doesn’t cost you or your client any money. It doesn’t add any costs to the case. If you rely on the defense’s experts, how do you know you’re getting the best rates available? There is no way to determine if the defense’s broker is running quotes from all the available annuity companies, if they are showing your client all the quotes, the best rates, and the financial ratings of all of those companies.
For example, if you’re involved in an AIG case, the defense’s broker might provide your client with annuity quotes for American General. It’s in AIG’s best interest to place the annuity with its subsidiary American General. However, is it in your client’s best interest? Would another life company provide a better rate of return or a better-rated age?
Another reason to get your own settlement planner involved has to do with settlement documents. In the release agreements, the defendant and all of the defendant’s agents are released from liability. If something goes wrong in the future and you call the defendant’s broker that worked on the case, they’re going to reference back to that release agreement. Since the defense broker has been released from liability, they have no responsibilities in that case anymore.
When you retain your own structured settlement planner, they will work with the defense’s structured settlement expert, and if the client elects to set up a structured settlement annuity, the commission generated from the sale of that annuity is split evenly between the two brokers. They work together on the documents, so both parties have representation.
Don’t let your guard down at the end of the case. Getting your own settlement planner doesn’t cost you anything. It helps speed up the case, and most importantly, it ensures that you and your client’s interests are protected.