When a person is injured in an accident and sues for compensation, upon winning their case they should receive a financial settlement in the form of a check. This can take up to two years depending on the number of appeals, which is a common occurrence for personal injury lawsuits. Continue reading to learn about the process behind receiving a financial settlement after winning a personal injury lawsuit and more.
Order of Settlement
After a case is settled or a trial is won, a personal injury lawyer has the responsibility of relaying this information to the court. When the court is informed that a case has been settled, they issue an “order of settlement”, which obligates both parties to completing a series of settlement paperwork. Depending on the state or the court, this paperwork must be completed and returned to the court within 30 to 60 days. One of the most vital components to the settlement paperwork is the release.
The defense attorney is responsible for preparing the release document. It is a document that underlies and sets forth all the terms of the settlement. Although this document can be narrowed down to a few short pages, it is common for defense attorneys to take their time on a release document, filling it with thick legalese reaching up to 20 pages long or more. Upon completing this release document, the defense lawyer will send it to the plaintiff’s lawyer for approval.
A release can be completely honest and direct, or it can be quite objectionable. This is why the accident attorney needs to approve it before it is finalized. This segment of a personal injury settlement can take some time because both attorneys have to come to an agreement. It can take days or even weeks to come to a reasonable consensus, delaying the entire settlement process. But in the case that the two attorneys cannot agree on the release, they will ask a judge to make the decision for them.
Now, when the release is agreed upon by both lawyers, the personal injury lawyer will send the release document to their client to review it and sign it. It is common for clients to do this in the presence of a licensed notary, perhaps in triplicate, for this part of the process. It is important for injured clients to carefully read through the release and asking their lawyer any pertinent questions about the document before adding their signature in front of a public notary. This is because there is no opportunity to alter this document once it has been signed and sent back to the defense attorney.
The Settlement Check
A settlement check is sent directly to the client’s lawyer, not the client or their insurance company. Again, this can take a couple of years to actually receive in the mail, depending on the amount of appeals and the productivity of the appellate court. This check generally will have the names of both the client and the attorney. This means it will need to be endorsed by the client before it can be deposited into their lawyer’s client-trust account. Once in this account, the lawyer will deduct their share of the settlement, which should have been negotiated at the time of hire. Another check will be issued by the law firm to the client of the remaining settlement amount.
Clients should ask their attorneys for a copy of the settlement check, or all checks totaling the settlement amount, sent by the insurance company, as well as, a financial breakdown sheet of the settlement, BEFORE the check is deposited into an attorney client trust account. This is the lawful right of every personal injury client.