Letter: Failure of Senate bill fails those in need of legal aid

A few years ago, I was jolted nearly out of the seat of my friend’s car by a semi-truck barreling into my door. The next thing I knew, I was undergoing countless medical procedures on my neck, back and right shoulder as a result of this accident. I needed my wife’s help to get up the stairs at night.

I didn’t have a pension, and my income was based on my monthly Social Security checks. How was I supposed to pay bills?

Fortunately, I saw an advertisement for legal funding that said I could get a no-risk cash payment that I would only have to pay back if my suit was successful. The company provided me an up-front payment that I used to pay rent, buy food and give my lawyer time to negotiate a better deal with the insurer.

You see, insurance companies know that if someone doesn’t have any means, they can push for a lower settlement. Needing that payment immediately is why most people settle for less than what they deserve.

Unfortunately, a very important piece of legislation did not make it out of the Louisiana Legislature this session: Senate Bill 299. This legislation would have preserved and properly regulated a valuable and vital option for Louisiana consumers: legal funding.

The people of Louisiana deserve a fair shot when tragedy strikes out of the blue. Politicians should have supported SB299 and made legal funding a viable option for financially strapped consumers.

Ronald Smith

consumer advocate

Kenner