If you’ve been hurt in an accident where someone else was to blame, you’ve probably gotten lots of well-intentioned advice from your friends and family. “Sue,” they all say. And it sounds so simple. But in reality, it isn’t. Due to their complexity, it can take months or even years for personal injury cases to wend their way through the courts.
Having said that, trying to reach a settlement with the responsible party’s insurance company rather than taking your chances with a jury can also be tricky. In fact, it may take some time to get your personal injury settlement check if:
- The case is not clear cut
- There is a lot of money at stake
- You have not completed treatment for injuries and/or other conditions stemming from the accident
Doubts about liability
The viability of any personal injury case hinges on the legal concept of liability. To win a case or reach a settlement, you must be able to prove that the other party’s actions (or lack thereof) caused the accident in which you were hurt. You must also be able to demonstrate that the other party’s careless or reckless conduct satisfies the legal criteria for negligence. Without sufficient proof, there’s little chance the defendant’s insurance company will make a reasonable settlement offer.
But that’s not all. In addition to proving that the defendant was negligent and that his or her negligence caused the accident, you must also prove that the negligence caused your injury. Questions about this can surface if you had a pre-existing condition or injury affecting the same part of your body. In other words, if your doctor cannot determine that your injury stemmed from the defendant’s negligence, then the defendant’s insurance provider won’t make a reasonable settlement offer.
An experienced personal injury attorney is the best person to turn to for legal advice and representation in these circumstances.
The case involves significant damages
If you are claiming significant injuries and losses – and demanding substantial compensation, the defendant’s insurance company will conduct a thorough investigation before making a settlement offer. As you can probably guess, these investigations take time. They can also be stressful for injured parties, who must often provide recorded statements detailing the accident and injuries to the insurance company’s investigators.
You are still being treated for your injuries
A settlement may also be delayed if you are still undergoing treatment for your injuries. Settling a personal injury case before you have reached a point referred to in the insurance industry as maximum medical improvement (MMI) is never a good idea.
You should wait until you are at this stage before settling your case so you and your lawyer can do a realistic calculation of your losses. Conversely, there is no way to know if you will fully recover from your injuries while your treatments are ongoing. If you accept a settlement before you reach MMI, you risk losing compensation for additional medical expenses, disability, lost wages or pain and suffering in the future.
Don’t settle for less
Settling for less than you deserve in order to get your settlement check quickly may be tempting – especially if you’ve been unable to work because of your injuries and you are worried about falling behind on your bills. Even if you honestly feel that you don’t have any other options you should still seek out a personal injury lawyer who can help you assess the pros and cons of a quick settlement.
After a settlement is agreed upon, how long will it take to get my settlement injury check?
In most cases, it takes several (four to six) weeks to finalize the settlement process. Here’s a breakdown of what happens during that time.
The first step is signing the release that officially settles your claim. This release will stipulate that you are relinquishing your right to sue the person, persons or company who are responsible for your injuries. Once the insurance company receives the release, you will receive the amount of money that you and the insurance company have mutually agreed to in exchange for relinquishing your claim.
Although individual circumstances may differ, a personal injury settlement check is usually sent to the injured party’s attorney.Any liens placed on the settlement funds (such as those for medical bills) will be paid first. Other expenses such as attorney’s fees, and so forth are deducted next. After all deductions have been made, the injured party usually receives the remainder in the form of a check from his or her own attorney’s office.
Pre-settlement funding can help you make ends meet
If you are concerned about making ends meet while you are waiting for your settlement check, pre-settlement funding may be a viable option. This is how it works. You complete an application providing some information about yourself, how much money you need to tide you over, and your case. A funding company reviews the application and speaks with your attorney to determine the likelihood that you can win or settle your case, and how much you stand to receive. If you qualify, you will be issued cash based on your pending legal settlement. This means you’ll only repay the principal amount, along with other charges when your case settles.