If you have reached the end of your personal injury claims process, you are likely anticipating the arrival of your personal injury settlement check. While the amount of time it will take for you to receive your check will vary, your check will have to undergo a structured process to make sure everything is in order before your funds are deposited to your account. Depending on your situation, you could wait a couple of months to receive your check.
Step #1: Signing Important Documents
Prior to the release of your settlement funds, the defense attorney of the at-fault party involved in your case will draft a release form to inform you of your settlement. This document will include information about the funds and its various terms and conditions. The length of this document can vary depending on the circumstances of your case and the attorney who drafts it.
This document may be difficult to understand, but your personal injury attorney can help you interpret the release and ensure that it is in your best interest. If your attorney notices any issues in the document, he or she will negotiate with the defense and try to resolve the issue. If your attorney cannot reach an agreement with the other party, you will need to involve a judge. The longer it takes to reach an agreement on the settlement release’s terms, the longer it will take for you to receive payment.
Once your attorney approves the release form, you will need to sign the form with a notary public present. Before you sign this document, make sure to read it carefully and ask questions about any parts that seem confusing. You cannot change the terms of your agreement after you sign the document.
Step #2: Insurance Company Processes
After you sign the release form, the insurance company responsible for your payment will receive notification. They will write you a check after they receive the release and any other required forms that they need to process payment. The insurance company will write the check to you and your attorney, sending it to the law firm within three weeks. However, certain errors and issues may delay the check’s departure.
Step #3: The Liens and Escrow Process
After the insurance company mails the check, your attorney should receive it shortly after. He or she will deposit your settlement check into an escrow account until the bank clears the funds, ensuring that the insurance company has the money available to pay you. If you do not have any liens pending, your attorney will move into the legal fee deduction process and send the remaining funds to you.
If you have any liens filed against you, your attorney will have to pay those liens before he or she sends you the rest of your check. A lien is any outstanding payment related to your personal injury settlement. Depending on the situation, the following liens may come out of your portion of the settlement or your attorney’s.
- Unpaid medical expenses
- Attorney’s fees from any lawyers you fired before settlement
- Outstanding child support
- Reimbursements to your insurance company
Step #4: Payment of Legal Fees and Costs
After your attorney pays your liens, he or she will deduct legal fees and expenses out of your total settlement. Prior to hiring your attorney, you should have signed a contingency fee arrangement that states what percentage your attorney will take out of your settlement for legal fees. In addition, your agreement should include information on if your attorney will deduct costs related to any case expenses, such as filing fees and witness testimony payments. Your attorney will deduct these costs from your settlement and prepare to send the remainder of the check to you.
Step #5: You Receive Payment
Once your injury or accident attorney deducts his or her fees from your settlement, he or she will write you a check for the remaining funds. You should receive the check within six weeks and you can deposit the funds into your personal account. Now, you can use your compensatory damages to recover from your injuries.