A New Charity for Plaintiff Medical Expenses
Personal injury plaintiffs can be hit hard by steep medical expenses, from doctor visits and procedures to home modifications. Sometimes for physical therapy, sometimes for counseling. Even with Medicaid benefits, settlements rarely cover all the expenses.
As of January, 2024, plaintiffs will have a new path to fund their own solution: The Plaintiff Fund. Professionals in the settlement planning industry banded together to create the Fund, in partnership with the longtime-successful charity Help Hope Live. Plaintiffs will receive direct support, and kickstarter money, to cover medical expenses of any size.
A New Solution – Three Free Benefits
The Plaintiff Fund will offer personal injury plaintiffs three valuable and free benefits. And most importantly, empowerment. Plaintiffs in litigation often find themselves waiting, receiving advice, and waiting more. The Fund tees up proactive steps toward achieving financial independence.
First, plaintiffs are given 1-on-1 support to launch a “medical fundraising campaign.” Much like GoFundMe, plaintiffs will create a webpage asking for donations. Medical fundraising campaigns with Help Hope Live (HHL) have an impressive record, raising six times as much as their GoFundMe counterparts. Unlike donations made through GoFundMe, donations to HHL won’t endanger plaintiffs’ Medicaid eligibility and donors benefit from tax deductions.
Second, plaintiff campaigns will each receive a $1,000 grant from the Plaintiff Fund to pay immediate medicals. The Society of Settlement Planners and others have already contributed over $25,000 to make that possible.
Third, plaintiffs will receive 1-on-1 support identifying medical vendors and service providers to consider using. HHL has developed a network of relationships with for-profit and non-profits across the country.
The Foundational Charity – Help Hope Live
The Plaintiff Fund builds on the offerings and success of Help Hope Live (HHL), a 501(c)(3) charity that, over the past 40 years, has helped more than 20,000 families raise over $175 million. HHL received a 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, including for being “highly cost-effective.
HHL now helps over 5,600 families annually. Last year it launched over 500 campaigns and paid $6.3 million in medical expenses. This support included $657,000 for wheelchair vans, $536,000 for rehabilitation and physical therapy, and $392,000 for home modifications. Their efforts made possible nearly 4,000 transplants and aided 1,300 recoveries from spinal cord injuries.
HHL receives funding from many sources, including Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, MobilityWorks, Abilities Expo, and Firstrust Bank.
Those Behind Plaintiffs – Planners, Lawyers, and More
Plaintiffs seeking financial recoveries are regularly supported by a community of professionals. The Plaintiff Fund was started by those in that community, with more and more joining the cause.
Trial lawyers fight for their plaintiffs, holding accountable those responsible for their injuries. Settlement planners maximize the value of settlements, including through tax strategies and structured settlements. Financial institutions regularly create new investment and trust solutions, like the Plaintiff Recovery Trust.
Early Supporters – From All Walks
The Plaintiff Fund received pre-launch support from the Society of Settlement Planners (SSP), an association of settlement experts focused on the development of comprehensive settlement planning. In addition to funding, the SSP’s President will be a rolling member of the Plaintiff Fund Committee.
Many in the plaintiff world, and those outside it, have already provided support. They include:
- Eastern Point Trust Company, the creator of the Plaintiff Recovery Trust, which solves the “plaintiff double tax.” The tax often cuts taxable settlements by more than half, hitting punitive damages in physical injury cases, interest after verdicts, and most every defamation case. As noted in this Forbes article, it “often surprises plaintiffs and their lawyers.”
- Amicus Settlement Planners, run by expert advisor Greg Maxwell, a lawyer, certified financial planner, and former President of the SSP.
- Mirena & Co., founded by settlement specialist Mirena Umizaj, who has worked with plaintiffs on some of the largest class-action and mass tort settlements in the U.S.
- Elana Financial, led by Joe Di Gangi, a 30 year veteran of financial planning, innovator of new plaintiff strategies, and a former President of the SSP.
- Tanis Kelly, of Sage Settlement Consulting, is a highly experienced specialist in settlements and former litigation attorney. She also serves on the board of the American Association of Settlement Consultants.
- Don Engels, with Ringler Associates, has focused on tax-efficient settlements for over 25 years, and written and spoken widely on the subject.
- 4Structures, run by longtime settlement expert John Darer, is a leading online news source and commentator for the settlement planning industry.
- Medivest, specializes in all things Medicare for plaintiffs, including lien resolution and professional administration of medical funds.
- Flaster Greenberg, a highly-regarded full-service law firm. Two of their attorneys, Matt Meltzer and David Schechtman specialize in tax issues at settlement.
- Dr. Darren Aboyoun, a clinical psychologist, will serve on the Plaintiff Fund Committee. With over 20 years of experience, he has focused on personal issues raised by financial complications, treated personal injury plaintiffs, and worked at great length with settlement specialists.
- Destination CLEs, which arranges a phenomenal array of continuing legal education for US lawyers around the world. Next year’s trip to Scotland features presentations on common law and litigation from Stephen Tierney, legal adviser to the UK House of Lords, and Harry Borovick, general counsel at Luminance.
- Structured Software, an innovative development company providing digital solutions to legal and financial firms.
Chairing the Plaintiff Fund’s Committee is Jeremy Babener, formerly of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy. A tax specialist and business advisor to many in the settlement planning industry, he serves on the legal committees of the Society of Settlement Planners, American Association of Settlement Consultants, and National Structured Settlements Trade Association.
Next Steps for Plaintiffs and Their Supporters
The Plaintiff Fund has just begun its capital raise, with services and benefits to launch early next year. As many have already recognized, the Plaintiff Fund is a game-changer for plaintiffs and their supporters. Plaintiffs finally have another path to meet their medical needs.
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