Personal injury plaintiffs may find that their cases can seem to affect just about every facet of their daily lives. Once these cases end in a civil judgment or settlement, plaintiffs can find themselves feeling unsettled and wondering how to go about creating a “new normal.”
While the funds provided in a personal injury settlement can go a long way toward smoothing the transition from one’s pre-injury life, it’s important to direct this settlement money wisely, in a way that provides you the maximum possible benefit. Here are some things to focus on when rebuilding your life after a personal injury settlement.
Settle Outstanding Bills and Claims with Your Personal Injury Settlement
In some cases, the defendant responsible for your injuries (or their insurance company) may make direct payments to your medical and healthcare providers. But more often than not, receiving a personal injury settlement means using settlement proceeds to pay for your own outstanding medical bills and other injury treatment costs.
It’s important that you and your attorney carefully review your explanations of benefits (EOBs) and compare them to the bills you receive. In some situations, a plaintiff may be inadvertently billed twice for the same service. In other cases, a medical provider may bill at the maximum rate instead of a lower contractual rate reserved for in-network providers. Whenever a bill is different from the amount listed on the EOB, it’s worth a closer examination. Without knowing how these injury costs are calculated, this process can quickly go from confusing to overwhelming. At Andrew Pickett Law we work with medical providers and health insurance companies to negotiate reduced bills and liens for our clients with personal injury cases. We make sure that once a case is resolved, all medical bills, costs, and liens are paid from the settlement proceeds.
Only after these bills are resolved should you focus on spending or saving the remainderof the settlement. Too many personal injury plaintiffs make the mistake of treating a personal injury settlement as a sort of lottery win, spending this money on deferred wants instead of setting it aside for future expenses. Many plaintiffs can benefit from consulting with a financial professional to plan how to best use net settlement proceeds from a personal injury case.
Determine Your Injury-Related Needs
Many injuries can reshape your life, goals, and future needs in ways that aren’t always apparent. It’s important to look at the full picture of your injury’s impact on your physical, mental, and financial health, and what you’ll need to do to restore yourself both now and in the future with the settlement.
This can mean setting aside funds for physical therapy, future surgeries, or even a more accessible home. If your injury prevents you from doing the job you were trained for, you may need to go back to school or enroll in a certification program to pursue a different career with your settlement.
If the accident has impacted your earning capacity, you may also want to consider purchasing a structured settlement annuity. These products can provide you with a certain amount of monthly or annual income beginning at a specified point in the future, allowing you to maintain your standard of living while minimizing the tax impact of your settlement. (For example, someone who hopes to apply for Medicaid coverage will be far more likely to qualify for this coverage while receiving payments from a $100,000 annuity than they would by having that same $100,000 in the bank).
Visualize Future Goals with Your Settlement
In addition to analyzing how your settlement can best fulfill your needs going forward, it’s also important to conceptualize your future goals and desires. Do you want to send your children to college? Would you like to relocate to a warmer climate when you turn 60? By identifying the goals that are most important to you, you’ll be better able to prioritize them when it comes to allocating your personal injury settlement funds. Only you will know what is best for your life, so it’s important to consider all the factors once you receive your settlement.
No matter your injury, my team and I will work to get you the settlement you deserve from the insurance companies. It’s important to us that you understand your settlement and understand your options when you’re working to rebuild your life after the settlement. While it won’t be an easy next step, you can rest assured knowing you’re in good hands.