Consumer Litigation Funding Helped Me – Now Let’s Regulate It

By Assemblywoman Taylor Darling | June 4, 2024

Six years ago, my life was turned upside down when I sustained a neck and shoulder injury in a hit-and-run car accident. As the bills piled up, I felt like my livelihood and identity were ripped out from under me. I was unable to focus on my recovery due to financial stress and had no options left to stay afloat, let alone pursue justice in a legal system that prioritizes profits over victims.

All Americans are entitled to the pursuit of justice. However, I learned firsthand the hard truth about our legal system. The reality is, when hardworking New Yorkers fall victim to injury through no fault of their own, they often find themselves priced out of a legal system that favors deep-pocketed corporations and insurance companies who leverage their resources to drag out costly litigation, keeping the scales of justice tilted in their favor.

Faced with this unbalanced legal system and financial burden, I turned to consumer litigation funding, providing me with an economic lifeline I could not access elsewhere. Without a wealthy relative to borrow money from, litigation funding helped me cover the costs of groceries, rent, and other non-legal expenses. This allowed me to pursue justice for my injuries and ultimately receive the settlement I deserved.

I have also seen countless constituents in my district face this sobering reality since many are living paycheck to paycheck in injury-prone industries. For those injured on the job, the majority cannot afford prolonged legal battles while medical bills accumulate. Consequently, many settle with insurance companies for less than they deserve instead of pursuing what they are rightfully owed in court.

Consumer litigation funding levels the playing field by providing a financial lifeline to cover everyday life expenses during legal battles. This funding cannot be used to directly fund litigation. It empowers victims to withstand prolonged legal challenges, thereby advancing access to justice for all New Yorkers, regardless of income.

However, it is important to recognize that while consumer litigation funding allows equal access to justice, it can also be exploited by bad actors seeking to take advantage of vulnerable victims. Bad actors in this industry will prey on people with deceptive contracts, hidden fees, and worst of all, schemes by lawyers and maligned funders who encourage injuries for profit. New York currently lacks the oversight and regulation necessary to protect victims from illegitimate funding companies, leaving victims exposed to these predatory practices.

That is why I am proud to support the Consumer Litigation Funding Act (A7655B), which aims to establish common-sense regulation to protect consumers while maintaining access to this vital financial resource. The legislation requires funders to be licensed and registered with the state, mandates clear and easy-to-read contracts available in the consumer’s primary language, prohibits deceptive practices, and imposes penalties for violations. It would also void contracts if funders engage in conspiracies or attempt to influence victims’ legal strategies.

I support this bill because I have experienced firsthand how transformative this lifeline can be. I firmly believe our legal system should not be a luxury contingent on the depth of one’s pockets. A well-regulated industry means that victims can safely pursue justice against insurers and corporations who will do everything they can to bleed them dry and cut them short.

As lawmakers, we have a duty to protect injured New Yorkers through common-sense regulation. We must not align ourselves with the interests of corporations and insurance companies who aim to minimize settlements by undermining resources that support victims. While several bills are up for consideration this year claiming to regulate the industry, the Consumer Litigation Funding Act stands apart as the only legislation that is not being pushed by the insurance industry.

The Consumer Litigation Funding Act is not just about regulation; it is about justice, fairness, and supporting New Yorkers when they need it most. Let us stand together to protect consumer legal funding and ensure every New Yorker gets the fair deal they deserve.

Assemblywoman Taylor Darling represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes the villages of Hempstead, Roosevelt, Freeport, Lakeview, and Uniondale in Nassau County, and is a supporter of the Consumer Litigation Funding Act (S.4146-AA.7655-A).