Archives for October 2010

After Your Case is Settled – Structured Settlement or Special Needs Trust

What can I do to Provide Future Care for My Loved One?

When a serious accident leaves a spouse or child debilitated with a need for lifelong medical care, a number of legal and financial issues must be addressed in order to provide future care for them. While a large settlement or personal injury award is important for providing financial support for in-home nursing care, medical equipment, hospitalizations, future surgery, and physical therapy, planning for how your family member’s care will be paid for after you’re gone is essential. In general, there are two options – a structured settlement or establishing a special needs trust (also referred to as “supplemental needs trust”). In both cases, there are certain tax advantages that should be considered, as well as how each could affect Medicaid eligibility calculations.

Structured Settlements

If the settlement or award won in a personal injury case involves a large sum of money, you can choose to have the money paid in installments over a specified period of time. Payment schedules can be on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annual basis. Structured settlements can last for the lifetime of a recipient with a beneficiary named for any remaining amount should the recipient pass away before all of the funds are distributed. Alternatively, a lump sum option can be included or a date named after which the amount disbursed can be increased. Regardless of which option you choose, structured settlements are not taxable.

Here, structured settlements can be customized to meet the unique needs of an injured person and his or her family. For instance, if a debilitating head injury or spinal cord injury has left you or your spouse unable to work, a structured settlement can provide you with monthly funds to pay your mortgage, rent, utilities, medical bills, and needs for your children. The amount paid can be increased once your children are of college age and need to attend school.

Special Needs Trust and Medicaid Eligibility

A special needs trust allows you to set up a trust using money from a personal injury settlement or award in order to provide for the upkeep and care of the person injured. Not only are the funds in a special needs trust exempt from federal income tax, they are also exempt from Medicaid eligibility calculations. This is especially important since, in order to qualify for Medicaid, you must first spend down your asset or be impoverished. Consequently, a catastrophically injured person with a special needs trust doesn’t have be impoverished to received long-term care benefits from Medicaid that can help defray the costs of institutional or in-home care.

San Francisco Bay Area Car Accident Injury Attorneys Weber & Nierenberg

If you or a family member has been seriously injured due to a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, construction accident, or slip and fall, email San Francisco, California personal injury attorneys Weber & Nierenberg today. We’re experienced personal injury attorneys who can discuss whether a structured settlement or special needs trust makes sense for you and your family.

For more information regarding our practice or to speak with one of our attorneys for a free consultation, call Weber & Nierenberg at 415-788-3900.

After a Motorcycle Accident – When an Insurer Calls You

Insurers are in Business to Make Money

Insurance companies are in business to make money. Depending on the insurance company, bonus or salary-incentive programs may be used to reward claims adjusters who save the company money by reducing claims payouts. In order to reduce claims payouts, insurance companies employ a number of tools and strategies. In motorcycle accidents where soft-tissue and head injuries are common, insurers often try to convince a motorcycle injury victim to accept a settlement offer as soon as possible after an accident.

Why? Simply put, it often takes weeks, if not months, for the full extent of soft-tissue, head, and neck injuries to be known. If an insurer can convince you to accept a settlement offer before the full extent of your injuries are known, they can save thousands of dollars in court costs and injury claims payouts.

What Should You Say if a Claims Adjuster Calls You?

A claims adjuster may sound empathetic, concerned enough after your motorcycle accident to “check in on you to see how you’re doing.” Don’t fall for it – in the vast majority of cases they’re trying to gain your confidence and make you comfortable enough to talk about your accident and answer their questions. These questions are not designed to clarify what happened in order to help you. Instead, these questions are more of a fishing expedition on their part: in talking to you, the claims adjuster is hoping you’ll say something the insurer can use to shift more – or all – of the blame for a motorcycle accident onto you, the injury victim.

Why is shifting blame onto the motorcycle rider important?

California is a pure comparative negligence state when it comes to recovering compensation in auto and motorcycle accident cases. Under the doctrine of pure comparative negligence, an injured person can recover damages for injuries sustained in an accident, regardless of whether or not they were at fault; however, their compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them. For example, if you suffer $100,000 in losses but are found 80% at fault, you can only recover $20,000.

That’s why insurance companies want to talk to injured motorcyclists. They want to ask you questions to see if you say anything they can use later to shift more fault onto you, thereby reducing the amount in claims they have to pay you.

Contact San Francisco Bay Area Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

Once you hire an attorney, insurance companies and their lawyers have to leave you alone and talk to your lawyer. At Weber & Nierenberg, we understand how to handle insurance companies and protect injured bikers’ financial and legal rights and interests. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact our office before speaking with a representative from an insurance company.

For more information regarding our practice or to speak with one of our attorneys for a free consultation, call Weber & Nierenberg at 415-788-3900 or email us and we will contact you.

Locations & Contact Information
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1 Sansome Street, Suite 3500 San Francisco, CA 94104
P. 415-788-3900

1999 Harrison Street, Suite 600 Oakland, CA 94612
P. 510-663-6000

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