$48.5 MILLION

Truck Accident Multimillion-Dollar Settlement.

"M.A.," a 30-year-old man, was driving to work in New Mexico. Suddenly a commercial truck veered across the center line and struck his vehicle head on. M.A. died at the scene. The McNeely Stephenson firm was hired shortly after the crash to represent the family of the deceased.

our client results

If you or a loved one has suffered from a catastrophic injury, one topic you might want to learn more about is structured settlements. When you are considering a claim that involves traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, burn injury, or other catastrophic harm, you should know that one of the ways such cases are often resolved is through the use of structured settlements.

A catastrophic injury is one that causes significant, permanent damage to a victim’s quality of life. While financial compensation can never bring back loss of function, it can cover medical expenses, pay for property destruction, and compensate for pain and suffering. When a case is won or a settlement is reached, you can be recompensed through either a lump sum payout or a structured settlement.

Catastrophic injuries often occur as a result of vehicular crashes (including DUIs), workplace accidents (including hazardous materials and a disregard for worker safety), faulty products or pharmaceuticals, and intentional acts of violence.

While we at McNeely Stephenson understand that financial compensation will not undo the harm you have suffered, it does not mean your catastrophic injury claim should be taken lightly. Contact us now to learn more about your rights under Indiana personal injury law.

What is a Structured Settlement?

When you settle or win a catastrophic injury case, you are likely to be offered monetary compensation known as damages. If you are not offered damages in a lump sum payment, you may be offered compensation by way of a structured settlement, although usually you are given a choice between the two. Structured settlements are common in catastrophic injury cases because they have certain advantages for both parties.

A structured settlement is one type of financial tool for handling damages in a personal injury case. Briefly, a structured settlement is a negotiated arrangement where a personal injury claim is resolved by receiving all or a portion of an injury settlement in the form of periodic payments, as opposed to being given financial damages all at once in a lump sum. Both parties must agree on the settlement, on the schedule of payments, and many other details. Structured settlements are common as an alternative to a trial; a structured settlement can mean that an agreement is more likely to be reached, or reached more quickly, than if a trial is pursued.

Structured settlements can include many legal provisions. Often an annuity (an insurance product) generates the future payments to the victim. Sometimes a structured settlement paid out over the injured person’s lifetime can compensate them more effectively than a lump sum can.

The Pros of Structured Settlements

Structured settlements have some notable advantages, including the following:

  • You could receive a considerable tax benefit because, under U.S. Tax Code, personal injury settlements paid over time are usually free of federal taxes, with the exception of payments for punitive damages or for accrued interest. (Speak to a qualified attorney for details.)
  • Structured settlements can be a better solution for those who need fixed payments that they can count on, paid out over a specified period of time.
  • Settlements can be designed to cover many types of future contingencies, which can be helpful depending on your long-term situation.
  • Because a settlement is usually in the form of an annuity administered by an insurance company, state insurance laws protect you by making sure that the insurance company’s obligations to you are covered. Many states, including Indiana, have a safety net program that protects your payments should the insurance company run out of funds (become insolvent).
  • Structured settlements can be combined with lump sums, with the latter meant for immediate expenses such as payments for debts incurred, rehabilitation costs, medical bills, and so forth.
  • You do not need to do anything to invest a settlement, as you would need to for a lump sum, or worry about spending a large sum of money unwisely.
  • A settlement can be designed so that it is transferred to a named beneficiary or beneficiaries should the injured party die within a specified time period.
  • A structured settlement can protect the injured party from unscrupulous friends or family members, or from crooks who prey on others, like those who would convince an injured party to put their sum in dubious “investments.”
  • If the person suffering from the catastrophic injury is a minor, a judge will often insist on a structured settlement in order to protect the minor’s financial future.
  • Structured settlements can also benefit the party allegedly at fault in various ways. For that reason, settlements often facilitate an agreement that is acceptable to both sides more quickly than a trial would.

The Cons of Structured Settlements

Structured settlements can have their downsides:

  • Once you sign the settlement agreement, it cannot be changed, so you must be sure that the settlement is what you want and that it will work best for you. Because many provisions can be specified in settlements, you need to be absolutely certain before you sign.
  • You lose flexibility in exchange for the certainty of a settlement. This means, for example, that you will not have a large amount of money that you could use to buy a house outright, but you will have a guaranteed stream of income.
  • Should inflation rates exceed the norms, your set payments could end up being too small for future expenses.
  • Unless the settlement’s funds are paid to a custodial account, you could lose your right to Medicare and Medicaid, should you need them later. (Consult a qualified advisor for more details.)

Two Structured Settlement Examples

Two common situations are those in which a minor or an adult with dependents suffers from a catastrophic injury:

  • A minor whose vehicular crash due to another’s fault means that their catastrophic spinal injury leaves them a quadriplegic. The minor will need specialized, life-long equipment and care, as well as the certainty of a lifetime income. Let’s say the minor receives a $3.5 million settlement. A million might be provided up front in a lump sum for medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, a customized vehicle, and other items. The remaining $2.5 million would be “structured” in an annuity to provide a certain monthly amount for life that would cover the minor’s living expenses.
  • An adult with dependent children experiences a catastrophic burn from an explosion at work. The settlement provides enough to pay for immediate expenses while another amount is placed in an annuity. The adult not only has current bills paid but also receives $10,000 per month for life so that they and the dependents are sufficiently cared for. Beneficiaries are specified should the injured person die within a certain number of years, so that the beneficiaries’ financial situation remains stable.

In a number of circumstances, a settlement with a structured payout is both a reasonable and a best-case alternative to seeking a trial. However, an experienced and skilled catastrophic injury attorney will discuss the facts of your case with you and help you decide whether your interests are best served by a structured settlement, a lump sum, or a trial.

>What is your next step toward justice?

If you or a loved one suffers a catastrophic injury and you win your case, you may be offered a structured settlement, where multiple payments are made over a certain time period, instead of one single lump payment. Structured settlements are common but are also exceedingly complex, with many pros and cons. It pays to have skilled legal counsel well-versed in structured settlements when pursuing a catastrophic injury case, ones such as the Indiana attorneys at McNeely Stephenson.

You can be assured that Mike Stephenson and Brady Rife are willing to go the distance on behalf of you and your family. Keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations – or a deadline – for filing Indiana personal injury claims, so it is unwise to delay. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. Don’t lose the opportunity to obtain the money you need to put your life back on track and to make your family’s future financially secure. We offer free consultations and would like to discuss how we can be of service to you. Contact McNeely Stephenson today by calling 1-317-825-5200, or use our online contact form.

real-life cases

“B.K.” was driving on a two-lane road one Sunday afternoon with his mother in the front seat and his brother and sister-in-law in the back seat when his life was forever changed. B.K. was struck head on by D.C.

D.C. had spent the day drinking with a friend and had stopped at a restaurant less than five miles from the point of the accident where D.C. had been served several drinks. D.C.’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

As a result of the terrible wreck, B.K. received devastating injuries, which included multiple broken bones, facial fractures, and loss of vision. B.K.’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all killed in the accident.

As one would anticipate, D.C. had virtually no insurance. Stephenson, through his thorough and detailed investigation, was able to prepare claims against the restaurant and those that provided the alcohol.

Stephenson pursued dram shop claims against those responsible CASE SUMMARY

D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.

Through the investigation, they were able to learn as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.

This crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. CASE SUMMARY

Our client (“D.W.”) was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a UDF truck making deliveries. D.W. received broken arms and legs, as well as internal injuries. Stephenson was retained by D.W.’s personal counsel to prepare and try the case. Discovery determined that the UDF driver had multiple driving violations. Stephenson retained numerous experts to show the jury the devastating effects of the injuries. Before trial, the defendant’s company stated that a jury in a small southern county in Indiana would never return a verdict for $1 million in this case.

The defendant was correct; the verdict was twice that amount. CASE SUMMARY

At McNeely Stephenson, we believe justice matters.

If someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to the situation which made you suffer a burn injury, they and not you should have to bear the costs associated with your treatment and recovery. This could include both economic and non-economic damages. “Economic damages” are things such as past and future medical bills; the cost of rehabilitation; assistive devices and prostheses; and lost wages. Typical “non-economic” damages are compensation for pain and suffering, and for mental anguish resulting from the injury.

Let our Indianapolis burn injuries lawyers fight for you. The experience of Mike Stephenson and the resources of McNeely Stephenson can be your means of achieving justice when you are the victim of someone’s negligence or recklessness. Call 1-317-825-5200 or use our online contact form for a free evaluation of your claim.

Updates
Personal Injury Lawyer
November 12, 2018 / Distracted Driving, Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists Using Cell Phones???

Indiana saw the nation’s steepest spike in motorcycle-related deaths between 2016 and 2017. Early indications appear to point toward another increase in deaths among motorcyclists in the state. According to Will Wingfield of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, “That’s something we don’t want to see.” Wingfield suggests that the increase in motorcycle deaths can be traced to an increase in the number of inexperienced drivers and a...

AWARDED. CREDENTIALED. PROVEN.

Mike Stephenson is a Super Lawyer in Indiana along with many of his peers at McNeely Stephenson. This is one of the highest honors an attorney can achieve

AWARDED. CREDENTIALED. PROVEN.

The AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell is the HIGHEST RATING and considered a significant accomplishment. It is a peer-reviewed process reflecting that other attorneys rank Mike Stephenson at the highest possible level of professional excellence.

AWARDED. CREDENTIALED. PROVEN.

Attorney Mike Stephenson is a proud member of The Litigation Counsel of America’s Honorary Society. A close-knit, peer-selected, and aggressively diverse honorary society of 3,500 of the “best trial lawyers” in the country. Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise, and service; an invitation-only collegial network.

AWARDED. CREDENTIALED. PROVEN.

The American Board of Trial Advocates is an invitation-only organization for attorneys of “high personal character and honorable reputation.” ABOTA works for the preservation of the civil jury trial, “Justice by the People,” and supports the right of a jury trial.

AWARDED. CREDENTIALED. PROVEN.

Our attorneys are proven advocates and trial attorneys. They have served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and have handled litigation in 18 states