Victims file personal injury claims to recover compensation for damages they’ve experienced due to someone else’s negligence in an accident. The accident could be a vehicle crash, a slip and fall case, or another harmful incident. If the defendant’s insurance agrees to compensate the victim and the victim is satisfied with the amount and signs a settlement agreement, the insurance will send out a personal injury settlement check for the damages. Many victims are anxious to get their settlement so they can begin paying off their medical bills and other expenses from the accident. However, a process occurs before your settlement is available to you, which often takes four to six weeks, depending on the complexity of your case.
What Are the Steps to Processing a Settlement Check?
Four to six weeks to receive your settlement may seem like a very long time when you have bills to pay, but it can help to understand why the process takes so long. Several steps must happen after you agree on your settlement amount. These include:
- Signing release forms: You must sign legal documentation known as a settlement agreement which states that you agree to give up your right to legally pursue the claim further in exchange for the agreed-upon settlement. There may also be other stipulations in the documentation, so you and your lawyers should read it carefully before signing.
- Insurance processing: The settlement agreement is sent to the insurance, and they must process it and issue a check to your lawyer. For larger settlements, this may take longer.
- Placing funds into an escrow account and paying bills: Your lawyer will deposit the check into an escrow account and will pay any claims that have been made against your settlement. This can include medical liens or other claims by creditors.
- Paying attorney fees: Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means they don’t get paid unless they secure a settlement for you. Once your settlement is received, they will deduct their fees and provide you with an invoice.
- Receiving the final check: After all outstanding debts and attorney fees have been paid, your lawyer will send you a check for the remainder of the settlement.
Why Do Some Settlements Take Longer?
Many factors can increase the time it takes to come to a settlement and receive your payment. To get the best possible outcome, it is often a good idea not to accept the first settlement offer given by the insurance. Your lawyer is working for your best interests and will advise you on a fair settlement amount for your case. Other situations that can prolong the time it takes to get your settlement injury check include:
- Severe injuries: If you suffered significant injuries during the accident, your lawyer will likely advise you to wait to accept a settlement until you have healed or have reached maximum medical improvement. This ensures all your medical expenses are covered.
- Multiple defendants: In cases such as semi-truck accidents, there may be several at-fault parties and insurances. These negotiations can be complex, and getting your full settlement can take longer.
- High settlement amount: While a high settlement is a positive outcome, it may take longer for the insurance company to process your claim due to the large amount.
What Role Does Your Attorney Play in Getting You Your Settlement?
Your lawyer’s goal is to recover the maximum compensation for your injuries. They don’t want you to leave any money you could be entitled to on the table. Because of this, they may hold out if a settlement offer is not substantial enough. They may also reject a settlement agreement if it contains stipulations that are not in your best interests. While this may be frustrating when you are waiting to pay bills and want the process to be over, trust that your injury attorney is doing what is best for you in the long run. If you have questions about your settlement agreement timeline, contact our office at 305-692-0125