If you or a family member were recently injured in an accident, you are most likely in a hurry to receive your settlement check. The period following an accident can be devasting, resulting in loss from work, medical bills, and other bills piling up. At the Adley Law Firm, our attorneys are focused on helping you recover the maximum compensation possible for your claim.
Most Settlement Checks Finalize Within Six Weeks
Once an insurance company finally agrees to a personal injury settlement, most victims are in a hurry to finish their case, receive their compensation, and begin using the money to pay for medical bills and other damages related to their case. However, receiving a settlement check isn’t as simple as the insurance company just dropping a check in the mailbox. While most personal injury settlements in Texas finalize within six weeks or less, the process to get there can be pretty complex. Fortunately, if you hire an attorney right away and know what to expect, you will find the process easier to navigate. Below are the various steps in a personal injury settlement process.
Step 1: Signing Release Forms and Other Documents
Once the insurance company reaches a settlement agreement, the attorneys typically draft a series of release forms. Depending on your particular case, your release forms might be relatively simple, or they may contain detailed conditions and terms that your attorney will have to read over carefully.
At times, parties may negotiate back and forth about the settlement terms. After the negotiations are finalized, and the release forms reach their final state, you and your attorney will have to review them and sign them before you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: The Insurance Company Processes Your Release and Issue a Check
Once the insurance company receives your release forms, they will process them and issue a settlement check. Usually, they make this check payable to you and your attorney and send it directly to your attorney. This process typically goes smoothly, but insurance companies may delay the check for various reasons, including clerical errors.
If you have experienced delays while waiting for your settlement check, you should speak to your attorney for assistance.
Step 3: Your Attorney Deposits the Settlement Check in an Escrow Account and Pays Your Liens
Upon receiving the settlement check, your attorney will deposit the check into an escrow account or special trust. This, however, is only temporary and is not your attorney’s decision. It’s a mandatory part of the settlement process under State Bar of Texas rules. Once the settlement check clears, your attorney will distribute your settlement payment.
Typically, your attorney will have to use some of your settlement money to settle various unpaid debts (liens).
For instance, your attorney might have to send portions of your settlement to:
- Medicare, if it covers accident-related medical care or you meet the criteria for a Medicare Set Aside.
- Medical providers with unpaid bills.
- Texas Medicaid, if it covered accident-related medical care.
- Your health insurance company, if they paid for accident-related medical treatment.
- Texas Child Support Division, if you have unpaid child support.
You must resolve these liens with your settlement funds right away because if you ignore liens from insurance companies, medical providers, and government agencies, you may face severe penalties. If you have any concerns about liens and how they relate to your injury case, you should schedule an appointment with your attorney to discuss them.
Step 4: Your Lawyer Will Deduct Costs and Legal Fees
After your attorney pays liens, they will deduct costs and legal fees from your settlement. Your attorney’s fees will amount to a certain percentage of your payment as outlined in the attorney-client contract you signed at the beginning of your case. However, your expenses and legal costs will depend on many factors that are unique to your case.
The total will include costs related to:
- Paying court reporting costs and deposition.
- Gathering medical records and other medical evidence.
- Paying expert witness fees.
You should always get an enumerated statement detailing your legal costs. If you have any questions about your costs, make sure you discuss them with your personal injury attorney.
Once your fees and liens are deducted, you should receive the remainder of your settlement money.
What Happens if My Settlement Gets Delayed?
Once the negotiations are finalized, most injured victims receive their settlement check within six weeks. However, additional delays may occur. If your settlement check gets delayed, you should contact your attorney, as your lawyer should explain the delay and may be able to resolve it. Your attorney may also be able to give your options that could expedite your payment. For example, your attorney might agree to issue a partial settlement payment, retaining a portion of the settlement proceeds while your lawyer negotiates your liens.
Structured Settlement Payments
On rare occasions, a personal injury claim gets paid through a structured settlement, which is an arrangement that involves the victim receiving portions of their settlement check over time. These structured settlements typically occur when the victim is either a minor or has a catastrophic injury claim involving ongoing nursing and expensive medical care.
Typically, a structured settlement involves the insurance company funding a fixed sum for the victim. An annuity is an insurance contract that pays out amounts on a regular fixed schedule. For instance, if you received a structured settlement, your pension may pay you a portion of your payment every month, every year, or every few years.
Structured settlements may sound practical; however, they can involve a level of risk for the victim. Certain annuities are only payable during your lifetime, meaning that once you die, all annuity payments stop. If you’re concerned about this happening, you and your attorney should carefully review and discuss the terms of your structured settlement.
The Adley Law Firm Fights For Injured Victims
Settling on a personal injury claim can be a complicated process. Without experienced legal representation, you may undervalue your injury claim, experience frustrating delays, and forfeit your rights. At the Adley Law Firm, we pride ourselves on our attention to detail and our aggressive, practical approach to representing injured victims. If you have any questions regarding your injury settlement, call us at (713) 999-8669, or complete our online contact form.