The Oregon Legislature is in session, but last year's session saw a lot of activity, some of which aimed at protecting injured Oregonians.
Sometimes, a person with an auto injury or other personal injury claim will enter into an agreement to settle the case with a structured settlement. These settlements essentially put the settlement funds into an annuity, which is an insurance contract that makes periodic payments over time. The settlement funds earn interest while in the annuity, and the injured person, over the full life of the contact, will receive a greater sum of money than the original settlement amount free of taxes.
However, some folks get into financial trouble, and may want to sell their structured settlement contract to get a lump sum payment. This can be a bad deal for the injured party, because they are now forced to take less money overall, and may have a big tax liability.
A new House Bill allows a court to consider several factors before allowing a transfer of a structured settlement, including the injured party's financial situation. Basically, the law requires the court to nix any transfer of the annuity if it is not in the best interest of the injured person. Also, the company purchasing the annuity must make a disclosure to the injured party fourteen days before the agreement is signed. The new law allows the injured party to reject the agreement three days after signing, or prior to any court approval of the annuity sale.
We use annuities to help our clients with auto injury or other personal injury claims if that is the best way to go. If you have an Oregon or Washington personal injury claim, and have questions about how to best structure a settlement, or whether to settle at all, call us at 503 325 8600. We can give you the information you need to make an informed decision.