Settlement Funding for State & Federal Civil Rights Lawsuits
Civil rights lawsuits are on the rise: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division filed nearly 60% more criminal civil rights cases from 2013 to 2019 than it had from 2007 to 2012. But you don’t have to be represented by the DOJ to bring a case. Here’s what you need to know about civil rights settlements and how pre-settlement funding can help.
Overview of State and Federal Civil Rights Lawsuits
To understand civil rights lawsuits, you must first answer the question, “What are civil rights?” In short, civil rights protect your freedoms. They assure you that the government, organizations, and individuals cannot infringe on those freedoms. In the United States, civil rights are guaranteed by the Constitution as well as federal laws like the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. They include:
- The right to free speech, religion, and assembly
- The right to privacy
- The right to due process
- The right to petition the government
- The right to vote
- The right not to be discriminated against based on sex, race, national origin, disability, or military status
You can bring a civil rights lawsuit against a private individual, your employer, an organization, or a government employee. Some common examples of civil rights violations include:
- Employment discrimination: You were fired or demoted, or you were denied employment or a promotion, due to your age, sex, race, or family status.
- Housing discrimination: You were refused housing due to your sex, race, or family status; or you were not allowed to terminate a lease for military reasons.
- Disability discrimination: You were refused accommodation for your disability by an employer or housing provider.
- Police brutality or misconduct: The police used excessive force, unreasonably searched you, or denied your rights while you were incarcerated.
- False arrest: You were arrested without probable cause or without a warrant.
- Wrongful conviction: You were convicted and punished for a crime you didn’t commit.
Civil rights have been essential to ensure equal access to housing, employment, and freedom for minorities, women, people with disabilities, and more. They’re also an important tool Americans have to challenge harassment and discrimination through civil rights lawsuits.
Civil Rights Lawsuit Process
Civil rights lawsuits are an important check on state and federal power. However, a state or federal civil rights lawsuit can be a lengthy process, often taking several years from the start to the court’s decision on your case. And if the case settles, it could still be many months or up to a year to finally receive any of the settlement proceeds. Let’s take a look at the process and timing of a typical civil rights lawsuit, according to the Civil Rights Litigation Group.
- Investigation and Initial Case Assessment – One to Three Months: Your attorney will evaluate the evidence about the civil rights violation and determine the best way to approach your case.
- Initial Court Filing – Three to Four Months: Your attorney files the complaint, the court notifies the defendant, and a series of answers and counter answers will ensue.
- Motion to Dismiss – Four to Twelve Months: The defendant will likely file motions to dismiss after the initial court filing. Defendants file these motions in an attempt to get a case dismissed quickly, early in the process.
- Discovery – Six to Nine Months: This is when each party seeks evidence from the other party. They may hire experts to provide opinions to support their position or rebut the other party’s position.
- Summary Judgment – Six to Twelve Months: After all the evidence has been presented, attorneys for either party may file for a Summary Judgment. The purpose is to have the court render a decision on the entire case without going to trial or getting a partial decision before going to trial.
- Trial Preparation – Two to Three Months: At this stage in the process, the parties and their legal teams determine their final strategy and how to present their cases to the jury.
- Trial – Days to Weeks: The big day comes, and both parties present their arguments to the jury for them to determine the outcome of the lawsuit.
- Settlement Payment – Three to Twelve Months: If the case is settled, depending on the sum and the defendant’s finances, it could take anywhere between three to twelve months for payment to be tendered.
Keep in mind that settlement can happen at any stage of the process. Civil rights lawsuits settlements are common, although these cases are going to trial more than they have in the past: According to Duke University, civil rights cases made up less than 1 percent of trials in 1968, but 27 percent of trials in 2016. Still, organizations often prefer to settle to keep cases private.
Civil Rights Lawsuit Settlement Difficulties
If your civil rights have been violated, the experience is often mentally and emotionally draining. You might feel pressure to “represent” a certain group, and you’ll often have to relive uncomfortable or distressing moments over and over again. Plus, civil rights settlements can take years, with the average between two to three years. Even if you lose, you may have grounds for appeal in civil cases, which adds more time.
Many civil rights violations also affect your finances. Housing discrimination can leave you without an affordable place to live. Being turned down for a job can mean lost wages. False imprisonment deprives you of a way to make a living. Not to mention fees you’ll need to pay to your attorney and the courts. Even though you weren’t the one in the wrong, you could be under financial stress for years until you receive your settlement.
Pre-Settlement Funding for Civil Rights Lawsuits
One way to alleviate the financial stress of a civil rights lawsuit is to obtain pre-settlement funding. This is essentially a cash advance you receive before your lawsuit is settled. Once it settles, you pay back the agreed-upon amount from the settlement funds. Pre-settlement funding is fast and convenient, making it a good option if you need money now.
How Do You Apply for Pre-Settlement Funding for a Civil Rights Lawsuit?
Pre-settlement funding is not a loan and has several benefits over loans. The first is that the application process tends to be easier. Here’s what you need to do:
- Ensure you’re represented by an attorney, have a strong claim, and have already filed your case or will soon be filing it.
- Apply for funding. Give us your contact information on our website or call us on the phone. All we need are a few personal and case details. We won’t run a credit check or ask you for proof of employment.
- Our representatives will review your application. They’ll also need to speak with you and your attorney to get more information about your case.
- If your application is approved, you’ll receive a purchase agreement. Once signed, you’ll receive the funds within 24 business day hours.
What Happens If You Don’t Win Your Civil Rights Lawsuit After Getting Pre-Settlement Funding?
Another benefit of pre-settlement funding is that it’s nonrecourse. That means if you don’t win or settle your civil rights lawsuit, you won’t owe us anything. However, if you gave us false information, violated the agreement, or committed fraud, you would be responsible for payment of damages USClaims may suffer.
How Much Money Can You Get from Pre-Settlement Funding?
The amount of money you can receive from pre-settlement funding for your civil rights lawsuit depends on several factors. Before we send you a purchase agreement, we will:
- Talk to your attorney about their opinion of your civil rights settlement amount
- Investigate any limits on insurance policies
- Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence
- Look into previous settlement amounts for similar cases or defendants
USClaims typically provides up to 12.5% of the anticipated value of your case, providing an average of around 10%. That can mean anywhere from $500 to $1 million or more in your pocket, fast. We also cap our fees, which means more money for you, even if your case takes a long time to settle.
How USClaims Can Help During Your Civil Rights Lawsuit
If you’re involved in a civil rights lawsuit, you may feel you’re David going up against a Goliath. You might have lost your job; you may need help with daily living expenses or to make up for lost income. Financial assistance can be a valuable tool to allow you to continue the fight. We specialize in helping civil rights plaintiffs reach the goal of a fair settlement. Contact USClaims to learn how we can help you get funding today.
- “How Long Does a Civil Rights Case Take?” Civil Rights Litigation Group, 14 Jan. 2021, www.rightslitigation.com/2021/01/14/how-long-does-a-civil-rights-case-take/.
- “Going, Going, but Not Quite Gone: Trials Continue to Decline.” Judicature.duke.edu, 1 Dec. 2017, judicature.duke.edu/articles/going-going-but-not-quite-gone-trials-continue-to-decline-in-federal-and-state-courts-does-it-matter/#easy-footnote-bottom-57-2373. Accessed 12 July 2023.