When a victim wins a personal injury lawsuit, they wish to know how long it will take for them to receive a settlement check. Some men and women assume the defendant must pay up as soon as the parties come to an agreement. Sadly, the legal system doesn’t work that way. In fact, a person may not receive their settlement check for several weeks following the conclusion of the case. Why does this process take so long? What is involved?
During a lawsuit, the insurance company may offer a settlement. The victim can then accept this settlement and the process moves forward. However, if the victim doesn’t agree to the offer, negotiations begin. If the parties cannot agree through the negotiation process, the victim may file a civil lawsuit. Either way, once they agree on a settlement amount, the process moves to the paperwork stage, and the client will be waiting for an insurance check until these documents are finalized. What documents are required?
The Settlement Agreement
The settlement agreement serves as a contract between the parties to the lawsuit. It details the terms of the settlement as agreed upon by all parties. A simple document outlines the amount of money the victim will receive. However, most cases require a more involved agreement, one that outlines the payment limits and plans. Furthermore, this document may include one or more confidentiality clauses and any other terms established as part of the agreement. Once the parties sign a settlement document, the court will rarely set it aside.
The Full Liability Release
Many settlement agreements also require a full liability release. Upon signing this document, the victim can no longer pursue any claims against the defendant named in the suit. Furthermore, this document may include a stipulation that the victim cannot bring other claims against the defendant. As a result, the victim and their legal representatives must make certain all medical care has finished or is accounted for in the settlement. Failing to do so could lead to the victim being responsible for medical bills in the future related to the accident.
Attorneys advise clients to not agree to a settlement until they have achieved maximum medical improvement. This doesn’t occur until the client has recovered to the full extent possible based on their injuries. The victim has reached a stable period in their treatment and will understand the true value of their medical bills in the future. In addition, they recognize the long-term implications of these injuries.
Issuing the Check
Upon receipt of all required documents, the insurance company issues the check. This check goes to the attorney’s office, which will then distribute the funds. However, most settlement checks come in both the victim’s and law firm’s names. The victim then allows the attorney to sign the settlement check and cash it.
The attorney must wait for the check to clear before disbursing the funds, and this portion of the process typically takes one to three days. Once it does, the victim receives a portion of the funds, and the attorney receives their fee and money for any outstanding costs. The attorney also remits payment to any medical lien holders. This ensures everyone receives their share of the settlement.
Never accept the first settlement offer provided by an insurance company. Although this may appear to be the best way to resolve the case, doing so could cost the victim in the long run. Work with an attorney to ensure you receive fair compensation and allow the attorney to handle communications with medical providers and others owed money as a result of the incident. This allows you to focus on your recovery and restoring your quality of life.