How Long Does It Take To Get A Personal Injury Settlement Check?
Recovering compensation for serious injuries suffered in a car accident or other type of incident caused by the negligent or reckless conduct of another party takes time. How long it takes to settle differs from one case to another. Some cases may end quickly while others may require the filing of a lawsuit by your personal injury lawyer from The Clauson Law Firm, PLLC.
Once a settlement has been reached in your case, it is quite understandable to be anxious to know how long it will take to receive the settlement check. Chances are the injuries caused you to miss time from work and lose income while bills and expenses piled up, but the settlement will allow you to get your finances in order and get on with your life. Here, then, is a look at the process from the settlement of your claim for damages to receipt of the personal injury settlement check.
Settlement Of A Personal Injury Case
A personal injury case, such as an auto accident or a bicycle accident, can involve multiple disputed issues. Your lawyer and the claims adjuster or defense attorney for the other parties may not agree on who or what was responsible for causing you to be injured. For example, the defense attorney for the driver of a car that hit and injured a pedestrian may accuse the injured party of crossing the street between two parked cars without watching for traffic.
Even when there is agreement about the cause of an accident and the party at fault, there may not be agreement on the nature or extent of the injuries that were caused. A frequently used tactic by insurance companies is to challenge the seriousness of the injuries suffered by the claimant in a personal injury case.
Another issue frequently disputed by the parties in a personal injury case is the amount an injured party should receive for pain and suffering. Unlike the cost of medical care or lost wages, which can easily be proven with bills and receipts and employment records, it is difficult to put a dollar value on physical pain or emotional suffering endured by someone injured in an auto accident or bus accident.
Fortunately, two methods in widespread use by lawyers and insurance companies help provide a common ground for valuing pain and suffering damages. The multiplier method takes medical expenses, lost earnings, and other readily quantifiable damages, referred to as economic damages, and multiplies their total by a number ranging from 1.5 to 5. More severe injuries or those likely to cause long-term disability or permanent disfigurement would justify a higher multiplier than less serious injuries.
Another way to estimate pain and suffering damages is the per diem method. This method uses the number of days it takes for a person to recover from the injuries suffered in an accident and assigns a per diem value, which could be based on what a person earned through employment before being injured. The per diem method does not work as well as the multiplier method for serious injuries that may leave a person permanently disabled or with lifetime effects from them
Unless the parties reach an agreement on these and other disputed issues, a trial will take place where the lawyers for the parties have an opportunity to present evidence to convince a judge or a panel of jurors to decide in their favor. However, most civil cases end with the parties agreeing to settle without a trial. The timing of a personal injury settlement depends on the facts of each case. Some claims get settled right away while others may not be settled until the eve of or even during a trial.
Settlement of the claim allows you to be compensated sooner than waiting for the outcome of a trial. When negotiations result in an offer to settle by the opposing party, your lawyer will explain its pros and cons to help you decide whether to accept it. If you agree to settle the case, the process begins to allow you to receive payment.
The Process To Receive Your Settlement Check
The insurance company or defense attorney for the party that agreed to settle the claim will not issue a check until you sign a general release. The release is a legal document in which you agree that the amount of the settlement resolves all claims you have against the other party arising from the accident. Your personal injury lawyer at The Clauson Law Firm goes over the release form with you prior to it being signed.
Once signed, the release is sent by your lawyer to the insurance company or defense lawyer for review and issuance of a settlement check. When your lawyer receives the check, it is deposited into an escrow account to clear. Once it clears, your lawyer deducts expenses and legal fees according to the terms of the contingency fee agreement you signed when you retained The Clauson Law Firm to represent you.
Some typical expenses associated with a personal injury case include the following:
- Fees paid to investigators.
- Fee charged by the process server.
- Court costs and filing fees.
- Court reporter fees for depositions.
- Cost of medical records.
- Fees paid to expert witnesses.
Expenses advanced by your lawyer are deducted from the settlement before deduction of the contingency fee. A check is issued to you for the balance remaining in escrow.
Satisfaction Of Liens From Settlement Funds
Physicians, hospitals and others providing medical services to someone injured in an accident have a right in North Carolina to be paid through a lien on funds received in settlement or through a verdict after trial by the injured party who benefited from the medical care. There is a procedure that medical providers must follow, but if they do so, your personal injury lawyer cannot disburse settlement funds to you before satisfying the liens from the settlement proceeds.
Medical providers are not the only ones who have the right to be paid before you get a settlement check. For example, a truck driver who collects workers’ compensation benefits after being injured in a truck accident may have a right to claim damages against the driver of a car that hit the truck. However, the truck driver may be required to repay some of the money he received from workers’ compensation out of the money recovered through the settlement of his claim against the other driver.
A judge may reduce or entirely eliminate a claim for reimbursement made by workers’ compensation against the money received in settlement of a personal injury case, and medical liens can be challenged when a doctor’s office, hospital, or other provider fails to follow legal steps required for a valid lien. Speak to your lawyer about actual or potential liens to determine how they may affect the amount you receive from the settlement of your case.
Settlement Of Claims Made On Behalf Of Children
Your lawyer would discuss with you anything that could delay payment of the settlement by the insurance company for the opposing parties or disbursement of the funds to you. A common cause of delay occurs in cases involving children. A claim made on behalf of a child cannot be settled without obtaining court approval.
Funds cannot be disbursed in a lawsuit to recover compensation on behalf of a child under 18 years of age injured in a North Carolina bus accident or auto accident without first obtaining approval of the settlement from a judge. The judge reviews the facts of the case, including the strength and weakness of the child’s claim for damages, and the injuries suffered by the child to determine whether it is in the best interest of the child. The judge also must approve how the settlement funds will be disbursed, including payment of expenses and legal fees.
Another difference in the settlement process of claims made on behalf of children is that approval of the settlement by a judge does not result in a check being issued to the child. Instead, the court approval includes a requirement that the funds be held and invested for the benefit of the child until he or she is 18 years of age when the funds can be released to the child.
Consult A Personal Injury Lawyer
Settlements save time and get you the money you need to move on with your life, you should never feel rushed or pressured into accepting a settlement of a personal injury case. When you have a personal injury lawyer from The Clauson Law Firm, PLLC, handling your claim for damages, you have a knowledgeable and compassionate advocate looking out for your best interest.
We take the time needed to explain all settlement offers and respond to your questions about them. We never recommend a settlement unless we honestly believe it to be in your best interest. When you accept an offer and agree to settle, we do everything within our power to expedite the personal injury settlement process to get you a check as quickly as possible. Contact us today for a free consultation and case review.