If you’re in the middle of a lawsuit with an insurance company from an injury you received from a car accident, medical malpractice or other situations, you’re probably anxious to get the settlement check to pay medical bills and other expenses associated with your recovery due to lost wages. You may have additional living expenses, such as rent or a mortgage, utility payments, and other costs adding up as well if you have been unable to work due to your personal injury claim.
But how are personal injury settlements paid out? When can you receive your personal injury payment, and for what settlement amount? And how do personal injury settlements work after accidents?
To help you be better prepared for the lengthy process that comes with most personal injury lawsuits, you should understand the settlement check timeline and how long it can take until you have the funds in your bank account. So, if you’re wondering, “how are settlements paid out?” we’ll explore more about the process below.
What is a Settlement Check?
Before answering, “how is a settlement paid out?” it’s important to clearly understand how it’s defined today. A settlement check is an amount you receive after other expenses have been paid in your lawsuit. The amount will vary and can take up to six weeks to be paid out once your personal injury case has been awarded.
So, how are personal injury settlements paid out and structured? Many are surprised to discover that a fair amount of time may pass until you get the full amount that you negotiate for damages.
What is the Average Time to Receive a Settlement Check?
The average time for most plaintiffs to see a settlement personal injury check from their personal injury lawsuit is between 30 days and six weeks. However, many factors can slow down this process and cause delays. When you understand the settlement process, you better know when to speak up with your law firm to find out why you haven’t received your money. But how does a lawsuit settlement work in terms of a typical timeline? Let’s look at the steps you or your lawyers must go through after the money is awarded.
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Steps in the Settlement Check Process
While the timeline to receive your settlement check may vary, the steps are basically the same for what happens between the personal injury lawsuit decision for injured victims and when the money is deposited into your account. The first step in the settlement of your personal injury claim is for the judge or jury to award you an amount for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Pain and suffering is the most subjective part of your settlement and is often different from what was requested by your personal injury attorney as a settlement offer.
Release Forms Signed
Once the judge or jury has awarded the plaintiff an amount for the lawsuit in the personal injury case, an Order of Settlement is created which must be completed by both parties. Part of this paperwork includes the release form. This is a crucial part of how settlements work, as the release form must be signed before a settlement check is drafted. When you sign this form, you are agreeing to accept the settlement from the defendant and are releasing your right to any future liability claims or and the defendant’s legal obligation in this case.
The release form doesn’t affect any other outstanding lawsuits that are going on against the defendant. It also won’t prevent you from filing a new lawsuit for any future injuries from a separate accident. However, it does prevent you from seeking compensation from this injury even if additional costs are incurred in medical treatment. When asking, “how are personal injury settlements paid out?” you should get a consultation from your legal representatives to ensure your health expenses are fully covered.
While the release form is a standard part of the personal injury settlement process, terms can vary. For this reason, it is important to read and understand the release and what you’re agreeing to before signing. You can also have your personal injury attorney’s office review the form to ensure it protects you. In some cases, you may refuse to sign the release form, which will require revisions to be made before you can complete this step in the settlement process.
Release Form is Processed
Once you have signed the release form and sent it to the defendant’s insurance company, they will process it. They generally have up to 30 days to send a personal injury settlement check to your attorney after the insurance company receives the release. However, the standard timeline is between 7 and 10 business days. The settlement check is sent to the personal injury attorney for the amount agreed upon in court or through negotiations.
The Personal Injury Settlement Check is Deposited into a Trust Account
Once your attorney receives the personal injury settlement check, they will deposit it into a trust account or escrow account. The check will sit in the escrow account until it clears the bank to ensure the defendant’s insurance company has the funds to pay the settlement agreement.
Bills Must be Paid
Once the personal injury settlement check has cleared the bank, the attorney will pay any debts associated with the claim before releasing any money to you. They will pay any outstanding liens against the lawsuit, which may come from various sources:
- Unpaid medical bills
- Reimbursements to your insurance company
- Attorney’s fees from other law firms you may have hired before your present lawyer
- Child support
Legal Fees Must be Paid
So, how does a personal injury settlement work in terms of legal fees? After all those expenses have been paid, your personal injury attorney will deduct the amount of their legal fees from the settlement proceeds that are left. The legal fees are often a percentage of your winnings along with any expenses the attorney incurred in the claim. Some common expenses in a lawsuit include payment for expert witnesses to testify on your behalf, court reporting costs and filing fees, expenses in gathering documents and other evidence, and many other costs, such as the cost of accident reconstruction.
You Receive Your Settlement Check
Once all of these steps have been completed, your personal injury attorney will send the remaining amount to you in a final check as one lump sum. You can deposit the settlement check into your bank account and use it any way you wish. It can take about six weeks for you to have the money in your hands. Most law firms issue paper checks to their clients. You can deposit the check like any other, such as paycheck or personal checks.
Possible Delays in Receiving Your Settlement Funds
As you can see from the list of steps in the settlement process, there is a lot of work to be done before you can have the settlement funds in your bank account. There are also multiple chances for delays to extend the settlement timeline.
Here are the delays in order:
If it takes you or the other party longer to sign the release forms or if they need to be revised before signing, you could have a delay. Internal protocols for the insurance company processes can also extend the timeline.
Another factor for the settlement check timeline is how long your personal injury lawyer holds the check and how long it takes them to settle all claims against the lawsuit. Some medical liens or other creditors may take longer to clear, which can delay the process of getting your settlement money. The final factor in when you will receive your payment is how long it takes for the attorney’s fees to be deducted and for the law firm to write out a check and mail it to you.
Getting Funds Until the Settlement Check Clears
As you can tell, it is impossible to predict when you will see your settlement check or how long the settlement check process will take. All the while, medical bills pile up and other debts accumulate. You may feel overwhelmed with no way to pay what is owed. It’s possible to receive money from your settlement agreement early in the form of presettlement funding, sometimes provided as a lawsuit loan or via a nonrecourse purchase agreement.
Pre-settlement funding is money you receive based on your pending legal claim. The litigation funding company may approve you for a portion of the amount you could be awarded in the settlement. If you’re still wondering, “how are lawsuit settlements paid out?” and need money right now, this is an excellent alternative. This will help cover immediate costs while you wait for the settlement to be issued and processed.
The Process of Getting Litigation Funding
The process for getting litigation funding is quite simple. All you need to do is fill out an application. The funding company will review your case, determine how strong your claim is and how much you are likely to get in a settlement. If the claim is strong enough, you can typically receive 10 to 20 percent of the amount of the total settlement. Now that you can answer “how are personal injury settlements paid out?” and are aware of the lengthy timeline, having this option can be helpful.
To get approved, the funding company will discuss your case with your personal injury attorney. Your attorney will need to approve your application. If you have any questions about getting pre-settlement funding or the terms you are offered, you can talk to your lawyer for advice.
Read the Fine Print
It’s important to understand that getting lawsuit funding will cut down on the amount you receive for your final settlement. It will be one of the liens against your legal settlement that your attorney is responsible for.
If you have questions about your settlement check, the settlement check process, or if you fail to receive a settlement check from your personal injury claim, you can reach out to your attorney to find out the status.
Oasis provides pre-settlement funding, also known as consumer litigation funding, to its customers through different products depending on their state of residence or cause of action. Many consumers will be provided pre-settlement funding in the form of a purchase agreement, which assigns a portion of the pending proceeds from their legal claim. Other consumers, such as those in CO, MN, MO, SC, WI and some OK residents, will be offered a funding in the form of a pre-settlement loan, sometimes referred to as a lawsuit loan. These transactions have important differences, therefore, consumers should carefully review and be aware of the type of transaction that is offered to them by any funding company.