Through my work in the settlement planning space, I often help individuals who have sustained catastrophic injuries that have upended their lives. While many of my clients bear lifelong physical scars from their injuries, others suffer in ways that are not as immediately noticeable. I have been thinking a lot lately about those who suffer from traumatic brain injury, which, based on my observation over the years, is one of the most emotionally painful experiences for a family to endure.
When a person suffers a TBI, the initial focus is, of course, healing. There is no bigger blessing than a complete recovery and getting a loved one back to the person they were before the injury. However, the road to that point is long. Many people with a TBI make a partial recovery and face challenges for the rest of their lives.
As with all catastrophic injury, the healing process typically consumes a family’s time and resources. Beyond getting the right care in place, it’s critical to find trusted professionals who can help navigate the other hurdles – mounting medical bills, lifelong financial security, tax questions, and the complexities of healthcare benefits and insurance. When constructing a support team, many families start with a lawyer if there is negligence, a settlement expert if there is an ongoing lawsuit, and a financial planner if there is the need for further monetary forethought.
But isn’t settlement planning just an extra step?
When a person is catastrophically injured, the family often faces significant financial strain. A monetary recovery from a personal injury lawsuit is a huge relief, but appropriate planning is the necessary next step to ensure that the money is as beneficial as possible. An expert settlement planner can take a holistic look at the individual and family’s needs and consider which strategies are best. For example, a trust can act as the vehicle to protect the assets from future catastrophic loss or keep eligibility for government benefits after settlement. A periodic payment plan might be a helpful choice to ensure the settlement monies last for a lifetime. There are so many tools to choose from, and a settlement planner is the best person to speak with about all available options.
It’s important to note that through all this planning, the primary caregiver can still stay in charge. And it makes sense for that to be the case, since that person is the best advocate for the injured person. Hiring experts, trustees, a financial and tax professional, and/or a settlement planner does not mean giving up authority. Rather, this level of planning allows the family to focus most of their energy on recovery and quality of life while leveraging the expertise of the professionals who specialize in providing the type of advice they need.
Traumatic brain injury is a painful experience for an entire family, and no one should go it alone. A good place to start is the Brain Injury Association of America, which offers a wealth of resources. And, if you know anyone who might find this information useful, please pass this newsletter on to them.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).