legal funding

Two States Implement Laws that Lead to Consumer Choice

Landmark consumer protection bills that passed out of Vermont and Indiana this spring are set for implementation on July 1, 2016. These new statutes will create regulatory frameworks for consumer legal funding that provide comprehensive consumer protections crafted specifically for the product, and also preserve consumer access, largely adopting industry best practices.

The new statutes provide for notice and disclosure standardization of contracts, attorney sign off, protection of attorney-client privilege, and the banning of attorney referral fees. The legislation also makes the important distinction that consumer legal funding is not a loan. Because it’s a sale and purchase of an asset, not a loan, if a person loses their case, they owe nothing. It also can’t affect a person’s credit, put them into collections, or cause other collateral damage.

The legislation will also lead to consumer choice—especially in Vermont, where Attorney General William H. Sorrell’s Office and the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) took over six months investigating the issue of consumer legal funding, issuing recommendations to the General Assembly. This is some of the most thoughtful legislation on consumer legal funding to be passed in the United States.

Both states saw the need for consumer legal funding, and validated its place as a necessary option for consumers. This is a really important step, and one that truly protects consumers.

Read more in our press release.

Photo Credit: Flickr

consumer legal funding

New Study: Older Americans Working, More Depending on a Paycheck

A new study recently released from PEW Research Center shows that more older Americans are working, and working more than any time since the turn of the century. With families still struggling to get by and recovering from the great recession, more and more people are dependent on a weekly paycheck even as they reach retirement age.

This can spell trouble for those who are unexpectedly involved in an accident. Incidents like car crashes can catch people off-guard, unprepared to deal with the financial damage it can cause. Especially for people working later in life, an accident can cause injuries that take longer to heal, keeping them out of work longer.

Consumer legal funding needs to be available for those who might not be able to get back to work right away do to their injuries. Otherwise, they can be left with the terrible choice of accepting a less-than-fair settlement—which can cause long-term financial hardship—or fighting to survive the long wait, potentially forgoing healthcare treatment and basic necessities. This choice is even more worrisome for older working people who may require treatment and medication to recover.

Consumer legal funding can be a lifeline for the millions of families trying to make it after an accident. Older working Americans, especially, need options when they have been injured. With more of them working out of necessity, they need options to bridge the gap.

Photo Credit: Georgia Business via Flikr

legal funding

ARC Welcomes Zynda Sellers to Council

Today, Zynda Sellers, a lawyer and financial education leader, became the newest member of the Alliance for Responsible Consumer Legal Funding (ARC) Advisory Council. Adding its fourth new member in less than a year, the Council has been growing quickly with accomplished professionals that all bring diverse perspectives to the table. Sellers’ unique expertise in financial education will be an asset to the group as they work to develop an ARC financial literacy program for consumers.

Learn more about Zynda Sellers in our press release.

Becki Grey legal funding

Meet Our ARC Advisory Council: Becki Gray

ARC is lucky to have a diverse Advisory Council whose members guide policy positions, help inform the public about consumer legal funding, and look out for consumers.

Becki Gray is one of the newest members of the Advisory Council and someone you need to know! She’s a public policy thought leader from North Carolina who currently serves as the Vice President for Outreach at the John Locke Foundation. In her position, she provides information, consultation, and publications to elected officials, government staff and other decision makers involved in the state public-policy process.

Before joining John Locke, Gray served as a staffer to the North Carolina General Assembly, spending two years as Chief of Staff to the House Minority Leader. She currently lives in Raleigh, NC, and spends much of her free-time with her three children and four grandchildren.

She’s dedicated to maintaining consumer choice and the free market.

We are happy to have access to her insights and advice.

legal funding

Legislation From Vermont Sets New Standard

Politicians often talk about the need for good public policy, good lawmaking. But, finding real agreement can be difficult.

Well in Vermont, they did it—implementing sweeping consumer protections while maintaining access to consumer funding.

How? They did their research, doing an exhaustive study of the issue. They listened to their constituents.

They saw the need, and decided put consumer legal funding in the right box, not just the existing one.

They chose the right consumer protections—ones that will be meaningful, and match our industry best practices. And, they ensured the availability of legal funding to those that need it.

This is How We Do It. This is good public policy. Well done, Vermont.

Read more about it in our press release “#Trending–Another State Adopts Consumer-Friendly Regulations for Consumer Legal Funding.” 

Memorial Day Reminds Us That Freedom Isn’t Free

Our Constitution, our representative government, our right to live as free people. Memorial Day reminds us of those who have given their lives for our country—died defending us, and defending the tenants which we live by.

Choice is a big part of the American way of life, and maintaining that right has been important from its founding. Our nation’s seventh president said, “The duty of government is to leave commerce to its own capital and credit as well as all other branches of business, protecting all in their legal pursuits, granting exclusive privileges to none.” Andrew Jackson

That is why we work so hard to maintain access to consumer legal funding and people’s right to seek justice for years to come.

We at ARC thank the members of the military and their families for giving that opportunity.

consumer legal funding

New Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Would Struggle to Cover $1,000 Crisis

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research just released a new poll concluding that seventy-five percent of people in households making less than $50,000 a year would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill. For those making $50,000 and $100,000, the difficulty decreased to only 67 percent.

For those of us who have had disaster strike, these numbers aren’t surprising. They are reality. And when you have been in an accident, are injured, and can’t work, things get even more difficult.

That’s why maintaining access to consumer legal funding is so important. Consumer legal funding gives people an option when savings runs out.

Photo Credit: Paul Maxwell via Flickr

legal funding

The Middle Class Needs to be Empowered, Not Shamed

Middle class families are supposed to have achieved some degree of financial stability, but in America, most are still likely to be left with few options when faced with an emergency. According to the recent Atlantic article, The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans, half of respondents a recent Fed survey said that to come up with $400 for an emergency they would have to borrow or sell something, or they would not be able to come up with the money at all. Like the award-winning author of the article referenced above, Neal Gabler, you can be successful in your career, appear reasonably prosperous, and be down to your last $5 in the days before payday. “’If anyone says he’s sailing through, he’s lying.’ That might not be entirely true, but then again, it might not be too far off.”

And it’s not just an issue of liquidity—people not having enough cash in their checking or savings accounts. Edward Wolff, an economist at New York University found that there isn’t much net worth to draw on. Net worth has declined steeply in the past generation—down 85.3% from 1983 to 2013 for the lowest income households, down 63.5% for lower-middle class households, and down 25.8% for the middle and upper-middle class households.

Research funded by the Russell Sage Foundation shows that the inflation-adjusted median net worth of the household was $87,992 in 2003. By 2013, it had declined to $54,500—a massive 38% drop. Though the recession and bursting of the housing bubble in 2008 may have contributed, the decline for the lowest earners began as early as the mid-1980s.

Emergencies and accidents have the potential to combine the loss of income, medical bills, mortgage and miscellaneous costs to rock a family to the core and chip away even further at net worth. If you’ve been in an accident, when you are going through a financial crisis, the long wait for an insurance provider to settle fairly can be impossible to weather alone, even for those who appear successful.

Having financial options like legal funding empowers middle class families and gives them an option. Financial insecurity may not be talked about as much as it should be, but it’s affecting more people than ever. Middle class families need to be empowered, not shamed. They need lifelines. Having $5 left before payday is a reality—and a reality that’s being experienced regularly.

Legal Funding

In The Real World, Tort Cases Don’t Break the Bank

It’s time to set the record straight. There’s a major misconception that personal injury cases are some get-rich-quick scheme. The real world truth is that personal injury cases are rarely pursued. When they are, people aren’t using cases to try and hit the jackpot. And there’s undeniable evidence to prove it.

A new study by the Center For Justice and Democracy at New York Law School states that 75% percent of tort judgements are less than $12,200. That’s not exactly Scrooge McDuck money.

People who are pursuing a fair settlement aren’t looking to get rich, but instead looking to get back on their feet.

Also, contrary to popular belief, tort or personal injury lawsuits only compromise a tiny percentage of civil cases (7% to be exact). Yet, insurance companies and their allies still argue that these cases saturate the legal system. That’s obviously not based in fact.

After a major car or work accident, victims are asked to cover out of pocket costs and even medical bills.

Injury victims aren’t “sue-happy.” But, they deserve to settle fairly.

Legal funding can often help them do that.

legal funding

The Common Denominator of American Families

America has a reputation of being a melting pot, filled with diverse people. Our country is made up of those differing in race, ethnicity, religion, education, economic opportunity. Yet, there is one thing that most of us all have in common: we aren’t prepared to deal with a financial crisis.

Savings or no savings – the average household remains ill-prepared to withstand a financial setback, according to a recent study released by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Setbacks don’t discriminate—they affect families of all races similarly. Even those with higher incomes can be financially disrupted when facing an emergency.

Unfortunately, many families don’t plan for the unexpected expenses or lost income that could come from being involved in an accident.

The median household does not have enough savings to replace even one month’s income. So, time and time again, families affected by a crisis need options. Consumer legal funding is the lifeline many people need to stay afloat.

A common denominator of American families—we need to be able to access to consumer legal funding if disaster strikes.