We’re facing an unprecedented situation that’s quickly flooding into many areas of life, including our legal system. Many states have closed their courts to help flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic. But trial lawyers, many of whom are working from home for the foreseeable future, are still pursuing resolution in their cases to obtain justice for their clients. Those who are ready to settle may have more limited options for how to handle settlement until the threat of coronavirus passes and the courts open again. That’s where a qualified settlement fund may be able to help.
What is a qualified settlement fund?
A qualified settlement fund, or QSF, is a tax-qualified trust or account that holds settlement proceeds from litigation. This tool allows for more simplified and organized administration of a settlement.
Everyone benefits from implementing a qualified settlement fund: the defendant, plaintiff, and plaintiff’s attorney. A qualified settlement fund allows defendants to pay cash into the fund in exchange for a general release, removing them and their insurers from post-settlement decisions. Then, plaintiffs and their attorneys have extra time to plan. Plaintiffs can speak with an expert settlement planner to discuss complying with government benefits and using tools to make the most of their settlement money. Attorneys can source lien negotiators and address other post-settlement obstacles, and they can explore the possibility of deferring their fees to control their income over time. All in all, a qualified settlement fund can help smooth out the post-settlement process.
How qualified settlement funds can help in mass torts
If you are a mass tort lawyer, you already know that qualified settlement funds are the best way to manage disbursement. But since the courts are currently closed, there is no way to get a court order to create any new QSFs for a specific mass tort case. The good news is that Milestone has a standing national QSF into which any law firm can settle a case, or an inventory of cases. Our fund allows for a broad claim type, and it does not require an order for every claim. QSF regulations only require that the creation and formation of the qualified settlement fund be established pursuant to court order, which, of course, ours is.
If you are able to achieve a settlement as we’re all “socially distancing,” our qualified settlement fund can allow you to joinder to the Master QSF and resolve your case or cases as you would routinely. Our original court order suffices, so you would not need a court order in your particular case or inventory settlement.
Our qualified settlement fund administrators and planners can also help with the initial establishment of a qualified settlement fund and/or its management once it is established. Contact us today for expert qualified settlement fund services, consulting, and administration.
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).