In the pre-settlement funding world, a non-recourse advance only needs to be repaid if and when a plaintiff obtains a settlement. But when miscommunications occur, it’s possible that funding can go unpaid, and what happens then? Law360 published a story about an Ohio attorney who is now facing legal repercussions after failing to notify a pre-settlement lender that her deceased client’s settlement had been distributed. Here is what happened.
Attorney Natasha Wells-Niklas and her client signed off on an acknowledgment with US Claims, the terms of which indicated that the attorney was responsible for notifying the lending company of the client’s settlement and distributed payment. However, when Ms. Wells-Niklas’s client passed away and the case was settled the following year, the earnings were directly bequeathed to the client’s heirs. US Claims notified a year later, long after funding had already been distributed. In violation of her agreement with US Claims, Ms. Wells-Niklas is now responsible for paying fees associated with her deceased client’s pre-settlement advance.
At The Milestone Foundation, we do our part to prevent a similar situation from occurring by continuing communication with attorneys, after their client has been funded. After an advance is approved, in addition to the electronic version, we mail out hard copies of our agreements to the firms we have funded. Taking this extra step ensures an attorney has access to our agreement and allows us to be on the same page. Likewise, every quarter we reach out to the attorneys of our funded clients for updates on their cases, as it is important to us that we have open communication with the individuals who are championing those we fund. While other companies may operate transactionally, The Milestone Foundation strives to build meaningful relationships with both the attorney and client.
Like the Law360 article, the Foundation has even had instances where an attorney is unaware of their client’s previous funding due to miscommunication and unkept record keeping. We have heard stories about plaintiffs being harassed by companies for repayments as they owe more in interest than the amount they initially borrowed. Compared to a for-profit company, our low interest allows plaintiffs to save money during litigation.
As our service prioritizes plaintiffs over profits, attorneys can trust that their clients will not be forgotten and treated like a number.