If you need financing for your lawsuit, or to cover your personal expenses while a lawsuit is pending, the following questions will help you choose between your financing options:
While many people think of lawsuit financing as a lawsuit loan, third party funding for the costs of litigation does not ordinarily come in the form of a loan. Instead, it is normally characterized as an advance, investment, or venture capital.
The purpose of that characterization is to avoid state laws against charging excessive interest. Such an advance will normally be non-recourse in nature, meaning that the lawsuit financing company can only recover from the plaintiff's share of any settlement or verdict, and the finance company risks a loss if the ultimate verdict is in favor of the defendant, or if a verdict or settlement is too small to replay the advance. At the same time, the high cost of non-recourse lawsuit financing must be considered when evaluating your funding options.
If you are interested in a true loan as opposed to non-recourse pre-settlement funding, you should make that clear to any financing company you contact. However, you are most likely to obtain an actual loan from a traditional lender, based upon your assets and income. Most lawsuit financing companies will only offer non-recourse funding options.
If you obtain a traditional loan, you will be obligated to repay the loan according to its terms, usually by making a monthly payment. However, if you instead obtain non-recourse funding you will be expected to repay the lawsuit financing company out of any ultimate verdict or settlement.
By the nature of this type of funding, the financing company will not make any claim for compensation beyond the plaintiff's share of any settlement or verdict, but different companies will offer litigation financing on different terms or for different fees. When negotiating for funding or entering into a deal, you should be clear from the outset about what the funding company's fees will be, and how they will be calculated.
Fees charged by lawsuit financing companies are usually either flat fees or recurring fees:
Flat Fee - When lawsuit funding is offered on a flat fee basis, the plaintiff and the financing company agree at the outset what amount will be repaid from the verdict or settlement.
Recurring Fee - Some lawsuit financing companies charge a recurring fee, usually monthly in nature, based upon the amount of the funds advanced to the plaintiff. In some cases the fee may be as high as 15% per month.
A person considering non-recourse funding should not hesitate to ask the company if they offer more than one funding option. For example, if a plaintiff expects a lawsuit to settle quickly it may be cheaper to obtain lawsuit funding even at a significant monthly fee, but if litigation may be protracted even a reasonable monthly fee may exceed the amount of a possible flat fee arrangement.
Once you know what options are available, whether from any particular lawsuit financing company or from a variety of companies you have contacted, you can discuss your options with your lawyer to try to pick the financing package that will best suit your needs and circumstances. (The company may need to speak to your lawyer about your case before it can make a firm offer.)
If you are contacting multiple lawsuit financing companies, you may wish to ask them if they will revisit their funding offers if their competitors offer a better package. You can also use any offers you have received as a starting point in negotiating with other funding companies.