The holiday spending hangover and demand for litigation funding
By Jennifer Pritchett, Associate Editor
With Canadians owing record amounts of debt, this time of year is especially stressful for many personal injury plaintiffs who struggle with paying bills after the holiday season, says Easy Legal Finance Inc. president and CEO Larry Herscu.
“The aftermath of the holiday season can impact someone’s mental state when they are going through the rehabilitative and legal process without adequate funds.”
Herscu says he has seen an increase in the number of prospective and existing clients asking for loans from Easy Legal leading up to, and during, the holiday season and into January.
“We continue to hear from our clients about how over-leveraged they are,” he says. “They often come to us when they are at the end of their rope. We are their last hope and the lender of last resort.
“I don’t know if we’re getting more calls because the geographic reach of the company is expanding or if it’s because there are more people becoming aware of funding alternatives. Or are people reaching the point where searching for alternatives becomes a necessity?”
This time of year, many Canadians suffer from the pounding headache of a Christmas debt hangover when the bills start coming in January, CBC News reports. The Bank of Canada has indicated that consumers owe about $1.71 for every dollar of household disposable income, and that people wait far too long to get help with credit problems, the article says.
Even with personal debt mounting, holiday spending in Canada was expected to reach all-time high levels this year, reports BNN. According to a survey conducted by the deal-finding website RetailMeNot.ca, which gathered responses from more than 1,500 adults, Canadians planned to spend on average of $1,400 per person this holiday season, says the article.
South of the border, the situation is worsening as well with the Federal Reserve highlighting that Americans’ outstanding credit-card debt hit a record in November 2017, up from $11.2 billion to $1.021 trillion, reports USA Today.
Herscu says people are getting their bills and they think, “‘Oh my god, what am I going to do?”’
Easy Legal doesn’t lend money to pay off debt but the company does provide loans to pay a stipend to plaintiffs for living expenses and medical rehabilitation, while their litigation is ongoing, he adds.
“We are that stress reliever, before they run out of options,” he says.
For plaintiffs who haven’t settled their claims with their insurance company by the time the holiday season has rolled around, people begin to realize how difficult a situation they are in, Herscu says.
“They’re stressed because of debts they have wracked up or they hoped their claim would settle before the holidays and didn’t,” he says. “They find themselves in financial hardship that’s only magnified by the holiday season.”
It can take years for a case to make its way through the court system and often plaintiffs, unable to work because of injuries, go through multiple holiday seasons without money coming in and the financial pressure mounts with each passing year, Herscu says.
“Many people don’t realize when they’re injured and going through the recovery and legal process how long it takes to negotiate a settlement with their insurance company, and the mental anguish it causes by that long, drawn-out process and the financial hardship that results,” he says.
Many turn to third-party lenders such as Easy Legal Finance for loans to get them through the tough times while they wait for their litigation to be concluded, he adds.
“We can help by providing them a small advance against their future settlement to help them reduce their stress, manage their day-to-day living expenses and medical rehabilitation while they’re waiting,” Herscu says.