Cashing in on accident victims
More than 700 Minnesotans have sold their structured settlement payments at least once since 2000.
Many completed more than one sale, so we combined all the sales a person has made into a single dot.
Then, we charted each person based on how much total cash they received from the companies that bought their payments ...
... and what share of their settlement's original payments they kept.
Most people received around $50,000 in cash, so their deals clustered at the bottom of a traditional chart, making it hard to compare individuals.
By switching to a logarithmic scale — a common approach for comparing broad ranges of data like this — individual cases can be seen more easily.
Fewer than 20 people received cash equal to at least 80% of their settlement's future payments.
A Ramsey County judge approved a 2015 deal in which the seller received 88.2% of their payments, noting it was "a pretty decent proposal."
But more than 40 Minnesotans ended up with cash equal to 20% or less of their future payments.
A Morrison County judge rejected a 2013 deal in which the seller would have received 15.6% of their payments, calling it "an unconscionably small return on the payments being forfeited."
On average, sellers only received 40% of their future payments in cash.
Who is buying these payments? It’s often J.G. Wentworth or its subsidiary Peachtree Settlement. The companies bought payment streams from four in 10 Minnesotans who did at least one deal.
Ninety people filed at least one of their deals in Anoka County, where judges approved 96% of cases that went to a hearing. By contrast, Hennepin County judges approved 82% of the deals they reviewed.
A third of the sellers received court approval to conduct more than one transaction, and the terms were usually worse on later deals.
In some parts of the country, judges assign guardians to help would-be sellers decide if the sale is in their best interest. In Minnesota, we could find only one person in our data with a guardian.
Explore the data
Hover over the dots to see how much cash Minnesotans received for selling their payments.