Once your personal injury claim reaches a favorable conclusion, the process of receiving your settlement check can begin. Personal injury cases often last a year or two, from when you file the lawsuit to the moment your lawyer calls to inform you the case has settled. Your attorney has probably heard the question, “How do I track my settlement check?”, countless times. Chances are, your case has settled outside the courtroom, but even after negotiations end, here are additional steps to receiving your check.
Relevant Documents and Release Forms Are Signed
An Order of Settlement form will be issued when a settlement is reached. Within 30 or 60 days, depending on the court’s request, the paperwork must be completed by you and the at-fault party. The release is prepared by the at-fault party’s defense attorney and outlines the terms and conditions of the settlement. It also states that you won’t pursue additional damages for the same injury.
Your attorney will review the document. If the terms and conditions aren’t in your best interests, they’ll discuss this with the defense attorney. The goal is to arrive at an agreement. If this fails, then a judge will address the matter, which can prolong the time to receive the settlement check. Once an agreement is made, read the document carefully before signing it in front of a notary public.
The process can be held up at this stage for reasons including:
- The defendant does not have the money, in which case your attorney will work on an agreement, such as a payment plan.
- Paperwork can get lost in the system, thus delaying the processes required for you to receive the settlement check.
The Settlement Check Is Released by the Insurance Company
Settlements are typically paid out by the at-fault party’s insurance company. Once the insurer receives a signed release form, it will start processing the check. Legally, insurance companies are obligated to immediately write the check, payable to both you and your attorney. However, internal issues can slow things down. To expedite this process, some states have issued deadlines for sending settlement checks, while a few have passed laws to add interest to settlement amounts if the company doesn’t act swiftly.
Your Attorney Receives the Check
The settlement check is sent to your attorney’s office. Funds are put into an escrow account, to make sure the insurance company can cover the settlement amount. Once the check clears, contingency fees, legal expenses, and pre- or post-settlement funds owed, as agreed upon, are deducted, and debts related to your claim are paid (if not, creditors holding the liens can sue). Your lawyer will also write another check to distribute the remainder to you.
If there are outstanding liens, your lawyer will have to hold the check for longer. Pending liens can be for unpaid medical bills or related to charges against you. If you must reimburse your insurance company or health care provider, owe child support, or fired another attorney but still owe payment for their legal services, these must be paid off or you may face stiff legal penalties.
Your Attorney Mails Your Check
Once all legal fees, related costs, and liens are cleared, the firm will write you a check and send it to your address. You’ll typically receive it within six weeks (perhaps if you ask your attorney, “Can I track my settlement check?”, they may provide a tracking number so you can view its progress online). The exact amount of time depends on where the law firm is located and how far the check is sent. Once you receive it, you can deposit the funds into any account you wish.
Apply for Settlement Funding Today
It can be months from when your case settles to when you receive your settlement check. If an appeal is filed by the defense, payment can be delayed by up to two years. Expedited mailing, completing relevant documentation before the case concludes, and partial distribution of outstanding liens prior to settlement (all by your attorney) can speed up the process. But if you’re unsure exactly when your case will settle or check will arrive, FCA Legal Funding can provide the cash you need. To get started, learn more about what we do, apply for funding online, or call 855-870-2274 today.