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The number one question Illinois personal injury attorneys get asked is, “What is my case worth?”  What they don’t get asked enough is, “How do I handle all of the money I am going to receive?”

Most cases aren’t worth millions or even anywhere in the six figures.  To have a higher value case you need to have a really catastrophic result like death, brain damage, permanent disability, major injuries, etc.  So while most cases aren’t like that, some are and the money that you receive can be life changing.

For purposes of this post, I’m going to give five tips on what you should do if you do receive millions in a settlement from an injury case.

1. Don’t tell anyone.  Whether the funds are for you or because you lost a loved one, the funds are for you alone.  Telling your neighbor or cousin or whoever is a bad idea, even if you don’t think they will bug you about it or try and take advantage of you.

2. Don’t give any money to anyone, even if it’s in a loan.  You’d be surprised how quickly this money can go away.  It’s not much different than lottery winners.  Doing something nice for yourself for what you’ve been through is a good idea.  Doing it for a ton of other people, even if they seem like they have good intentions, is a bad idea.

3. Talk to a financial adviser from a reputable company.  Actually talk to at least three.  How do you know if they are reputable?  Well, just like lawyers you can never know for sure, but in general you’d want to look for someone who is affiliated with a big company, check out their client reviews and in cases like this, make sure that they are being conservative with their recommendations. Anyone who’d recommend a high risk venture or try to get you to invest with one of their clients is not someone I’d go with.

4. Don’t make any crazy big purchases within the first year.  Taking a vacation is a good idea.  Buying a car might not be a bad idea.  Spending 150k on a car or buying a seven figure home right away is probably a bad decision.

5. Could the money last you the rest of your life?  If so, make a plan as to how that will happen and stick to it.  If you have cleared five million from a case and expect to live another 35 years, you can spend approximately $140,000 a year (although it could be more if your money is earning interest or being properly invested). You have to really think about how you want to spend your days.  Will you continue to work if you are able to? Will you have health insurance? How much do you spend a year on food, clothes, travel, etc.?

None of this is legal advice, but is based on our experiences and from talking to attorneys whose clients have been through this process.  If you have any questions please contact us at any time.