I. WHAT IS A STRUCTURED SETTTLEMENT ATTORNEY, AND WHAT QUALIFIES AN ATORNEY TO HOLD THEMSELVES OUT AS AN ATTORNEY IN The INDUSTRY SURROUNDING THE Transfer OF STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT PAYMENT RIGHTS
A structured settlement attorney is simply a lawyer that practices in the area of addressing the multitude of issues that arise out of the settlement of a personal injury claim that is settled by an agreement to make payments to the injured person, or their heirs “over time”. As once a plaintiff in a personal injury action agrees to accept both present and future compensation for all injuries sustained in the underlying personal injury claim, that plaintiff has entered into a what is commonly referred to as a “structured settlement”. By entering into such a settlement, a plaintiff will generally receive not only a certain immediate payment of money at the time of settlement, but also a “right” to receive future money from either the defendant insurance company that settled the claim directly with the plaintiff, or a separate insurance company that has entered into its own agreement with the initial defendant insurance to make the “future payments” to the plaintiff on behalf of the original insurance company.
As such, the “structured settlement” then becomes the “tip of an iceberg” of what amounts to a “legal minefield” for an entire new and different “class” of individuals and companies that interestingly enough have no direct connection whatsoever to the original “structured settlement” including the original plaintiff, their heirs, or the original defendant insurance company. This is because a “structured settlement” creates a “payment right”. As an actual “right” to receive future payment guaranteed by either one or perhaps even two separate insurance companies has tremendous “value” in and of itself to not only the original plaintiff, but also third party investors, other insurance companies, the U.S Government, and the Internal Revenue Service, an entire financial industry has developed around the creation, purchase, right to sell, sale, and “secondary market” investment potential of an individual’s “structured settlement payment rights”. In fact, the “investment market” for a plaintiff’s “structured settlement rights” has become such a “juggernaut”, that a Federal Model Act was created in 2001 to govern how a person’s “future payment rights” arising out of a “structured settlement” can be transferred, purchased, sold, and the possible federal tax consequences that can result from such a transaction, as well as 47 states have also since 2001, passed statues in accordance with the federal act, to “regulate” what is a today a “multi-billion” dollar industry.
To be a “structured settlement attorney” therefore, an attorney must not only be well versed in the areas of insurance law, constitutional law, litigation, rules of evidence, tax law, but also well versed in the industry as a whole, and the underwriting of risk, in order to properly assist sellers, buyers, courts, bankruptcy trustees, and investors, in evaluating the potentials and pitfalls that underlie each and every transaction involving a transfer of an individual’s “structured settlement payment rights” Eugene A. Ahtirski, Esq., is such an attorney. Mr. Ahtirski has personally been involved in over 7,000 court ordered transactions for the sale of structured settlement “payment rights” representing both purchasers, and sellers, as well as over 2,000 pre- Federal Act “assignments” of structured settlement “payment rights”, exclusively representing seller’s interest in each of those transactions. In addition, Mr. Ahtirski is an expert consultant in “dissolution proceedings”, where the present day value of a structured settlement must be “evaluated” and “valued” for community property division purposes. Finally, Mr. Ahtirski, has also represented the interests of investors in the purchase of court-ordered sales of structured settlement payments by underwriting of the risk of the investment for the investor, as well as the issuance of opinion letters regarding the same
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