Let’s Set The Record Straight: Consumer Legal Funding is Not Litigation Finance

Consumer Legal Funding, in its various forms, is pretty mundane. It covers living expenses, such as rent, food, clothes and keeping the lights on. It might even enable a family to provide Christmas or birthday gifts for their children. In every case, its sole purpose is to help individuals and families alleviate the cash-flow problems that arise in the wake of an accident or other tragic circumstances, while the individuals and families are seeking compensation for their situation. It has nothing to do with financing of the litigation.

What is happing is that groups and individuals who are not taking the time and effort to know the differences between the two different products and are lumping them together. They are saying all transactions where a party to litigation receives any monetary resources from a non-party are considered Third Party-Litigation- Financing (TPLF). It paints a bleak picture of “foreign adversaries . . . undermining U.S. national economic and security interests through the infiltration of the American litigation system,” and it is the end of the free world as we know it.

Consumer Legal Funding is nothing like that, it helps a consumer meet their financial obligations while their legal claim is making its way through the justice system. It does not pay for deposition cost. It does not pay for legal fees or expenses.

Most of the time the funds go to help a consumer who has had a car accident bridge the financial gap, but there are other times where it goes to help a person who was wrongfully convicted and spent nearly two decades of their life in prison for a crime they did not commit. Consumer legal funding helped them get their life back in assisting with living expenses while they got the justice they so justly deserved.

It helped a Police Officer pay to keep a roof over their family’s head while they had their day in court after being wrongfully discharged.

Then the case of a single mother of three who was going back to college to make a better life for her children and had to move out of their home because of a toxic mold infestation. She used consumer legal funding to pay for a mobile home so she and her three children could live in a safe, toxic-free, environment while the situation was fixed.

There is the case when a 16-year-old was made a quadriplegic due to medical negligence. The family had to modify their home to make accommodations to care for their loved one. Consumer legal funding was the only way they were able to take care of their teenager while the case made its way through the long legal system.

Another was a woman was involved in a car accident and her teeth were shattered because of the accident. She used consumer legal funding to get a new set of teeth. She said, “it gave me my smile back”.

Finally, there have been times where consumer legal funding was used to help pay for funeral expenses of a loved one that was tragically killed in an accident. Sadly, some families had no other means of taking their loved one to their final resting place if it had not been for consumer legal funding.

But what is happening are those groups and individuals that do not take the time, or want to take the time, to learn what consumer legal funding really is. They hear terms like, “corrupting the legal system”, “leads to filing frivolous litigation” and the latest is “foreign governments are leading to international sabotage of our courts”. Then charge ahead saying “the sky is falling; the sky is falling”.

  • How does giving money to a single mother so she can have her children live in a toxic free environment lead to “international sabotage”?
  • How does allowing a person who spent nearly 2 decades of their life living in 48 square foot space corrupting the legal system?
  • How does allowing a person to get their smile back lead to frivolous litigation?

Litigation Financing is just that “financing of the litigation”. It is used to pay for lawyers. It is used to pay for depositions. It is used to pay for expert witnesses. It is used to pay court costs. None of which consumer legal funding does.

In fact, in the legislation that we have promoted we specifically state the funds we provide to a consumer cannot be used for those purposes. Don’t be fooled by someone who is throwing out buzz words that make one think we are on the brink of judicial destruction by confusing Consumer Legal Funding with Litigation Financing.

They both may be fruit. But one is an apple and one is an orange.