Litigation funding provides help for cash-strapped clients
By Tony Poland, AdvocateDaily.com Associate Editor
Litigation funding is a useful tool that helps tide injured clients over until their lawsuit has been settled, says Toronto personal injury lawyer Rohan Haté.
Haté, partner with McPhadden Samac Tuovi Haté LLP, explains that while his firm works on a contingency, many people cannot make ends meet after they have been injured, and they need bridge financing until their accident claim can be resolved.
“I think it’s appropriate in cases where plaintiffs have serious injuries. It helps them pay their daily expenses,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com. “If they have serious injuries, their income replacement benefits are simply not enough to cover their weekly or monthly expenses because with those benefits you only get up to $400 a week. That amount was actually set back in 1996 when the minimum wage was $6.40.”
Haté says while costs continue to escalate, the income replacement benefit hasn’t kept pace with inflation, so if a client is unable to work because of an injury, and there are no other benefits available to the client, it can put a serious strain on their budget.
He says they may also have trouble affording treatment for their injury.
Haté works with a third-party lender who will vet each file to see if funding is appropriate, he says, adding that because his firm deals in high volumes, they are able to secure a preferred interest rate.
When he takes a case, Haté says he will sit down with clients and discuss their options as they work toward a settlement and consider if they have benefits from work, Employment Insurance sickness benefits or access to other programs or services.
“One option is litigation funding. Clients are weary at times because interest rates can be high, which can be an impediment to a settlement,” he says.
“But I will recommend it on files where there are serious injuries, and they simply can’t afford to continue covering their own living expenses. I have no issues with it because people need to survive, and without it, they couldn’t.”
Haté also recommends clients take out adverse costs insurance.
“When I am retained, I make sure that every client is protected in the event the case must proceed to trial. They don’t have to pay upfront for adverse costs insurance — it’s a premium that’s paid only when the file settles,” he says.
“It’s peace of mind knowing that the purpose of your lawsuit is to help put you back in the position you were in prior to your injury and to compensate you for any future losses. However, if the insurance company forces you to trial, you do that without worrying about the risk of adverse costs being awarded against you personally,” Haté says.