You are at your lawyer's hands in numerous ways, primarily when dealing with lawsuits and settlements, since you trust someone like any qualified consultant. They serve as your point of contact, advocate, and support throughout the litigation process, potentially even in the eyes of the courts.
It is acceptable and considered a standard protocol for your attorney to control and keep your settlement checks. However, that does not negate that it is stressful and disheartening to learn that your attorney is keeping your settlement check and delaying sending it.
Which Settlement Type Should You Pick?
One aspect that affects the response to the question, "How long would it take for settlement checks to get through a case?" is the type of settlement you select. Your settlement check is expected to arrive more quickly if you pick one lump sum payment instead of structured settlement payments.
Because all liens, court costs, and legal fees are paid out of one sizable check, a lump sum agreement gets you paid more quickly.
Once your lawyer has paid off all outstanding debts, you will start getting money from a structured settlement, a series of installments spread over several months. Rarely a defendant may make payments via a structured settlement. A structured settlement occurs when a defendant pays the compensation over time rather than in one lump sum, as with a standard settlement.
In structured settlements, the defendant or insurance provider typically arranges for the victim to receive payments from an annuity on a predetermined timetable. Ask your lawyer about your settlement payment if you and the defendant decide on a structured settlement. You need to adequately read the terms to accept a structured settlement that adds unforeseen delays, dangers, and financial difficulties.
A lump-sum settlement is also preferable because you won't have to worry about inflation depreciating future payments' worth. However, you can plan for monthly costs to set up a structured settlement.
You can also choose to combine the two forms of settlements; in this case, you will first receive a sizable lump-sum payment for a portion of what the opposing party owes you, followed by regular payments for the remaining balance.
After settling, additional steps must be taken before the defendant delivers her attorney's money. However, once the check is delivered to your lawyer, he/she has duties to complete before the firm can transfer the remaining funds to you. Your particular situation will determine how long it actually takes for us to deliver your check, in addition to several other considerations.
What Takes Place After a Settlement?
You may believe that you should leave the negotiations having a check in hand once a settlement has been reached. To get the payment you deserve, you must take several actions.
Sign a Release Form
According to a release form, you can never file a lawsuit against one defendant for a similar civil offense. Your legal counsel evaluates a release form to guarantee that you get the legal protections by state and federal laws. You must file the Order of Statement, which attests that you comprehend the conditions spelled out in the legal settlement, within 30 and 60 days after reaching a settlement.
The Attorney Receives Your Settlement Check
Whether you get a settlement check from insurance or the other party, the money goes to your lawyer to cover liens, court costs, and other expenses. A portion of the settlement check will be set aside to pay your lawyer if they are representing you on a contingency basis. Managing the financial responsibilities related to a legal settlement check can take one week to six weeks. You should get the remaining amount of your settlement check after deducting fees and liens.
What Causes Your Settlement Check to Be Delayed?
The time it takes for your check to be sent varies depending on the case's specifics or your settlement agreement. Most settlements are resolved within six weeks, although some may take longer. Here are a few explanations why your settlement money can arrive later than anticipated.
The Signing of The Release Forms
As previously explained, you must sign the initial form or legally enforceable contract to receive your payment. Most defendants or insurance companies won't transfer a settlement check until the release form gets signed by you. However, you are not required to abandon those claims if you are also suing the same defendant for a distinct issue.
The claims you want to release the defendant or insurance provider from must be included in the release form. You might need to sign various release forms based on the total number of parties engaged in the case. You might be required to sign two release forms—one for the defendant and one for the insurance company—if the defendant holds an insurance company managing your claim.
Occasionally, if the defendant or you dispute the terms of the release form, there can be delays. This typically necessitates redrafting the release form.
Delays in Internal Processing with the Defendant
The period a defendant has to provide a settlement check after you sign the release form might differ based on each state's regulations. Unfortunately, some businesses take advantage of this to delay processing your settlement check as long as possible. For instance, once the defendant or insurance provider receives your release form, they may need the entire time permitted by law to execute your settlement check.
This implies that the defendant or their insurance provider may require 30 days to formally approve your release form if you reside in a state where the legal processing period is 30 days.
Check Clearance Verification By the Attorney
The defendant often sends the money to your attorney soon. The attorney may often store the check in a trust or escrow account once they receive it. They wait until it clears. For bigger settlement checks, this procedure takes about 5-7 days.
Your lawyer deducts their portion to pay legal fees when the check clears. They also settle any unpaid liens or liabilities on your behalf. Your lawyer will give you a check by mail or wire transfer once they have met all of their financial responsibilities in connection with your case.
Payments for Unpaid Bills and Liens
You probably need to pay unpaid medical bills or liens if you've got a personal injury case. The law requires you to pay these bills immediately when your case is resolved. Any liens on your settlement are typically paid for you by your attorney once they get the settlement cash from the defendant.
Unless the government holds a lien against your settlement, it is typically simple to resolve liens. It takes months to address any liens you may have from a government-funded program like Medicare or Medicaid.
Your attorney also uses the settlement money to pay for any costs associated with your litigation. This covers diagnostic procedures, personal research, expert witness evidence, and more. Most of these bills have a set value, but your lawyer may need to work out a payment plan for other services.
The wisest course of action is typically to be patient so you don't pay more than required, even though your lawyer can't release your settlement check until they satisfy liens and bills connected to your case.
The Finalization Of Payment
After completing their duties, the lawyer can deliver your check to pay any outstanding liens and case-related fees. Depending on the circumstances, you might get the money by wire transfer or check.
You should rejoice and use the settlement money as you see fit, but remember that you still have to pay any dues your lawyer did not already take care of. Take inventory of any associated bills and make sure they are all paid before you begin spending your settlement check. Many settlement receivers make the error of using their money before paying off debts, which causes severe financial problems. They often find themselves in debt issues and get annoying calls from creditors and debt collectors.
To avoid such a situation, you must use the settlement money to consolidate your debts or make monthly installments toward your debt management program. You may also invest a part of your check into an emergency fund.
How Can You Boost Up the Delivery of Your Settlement Check?
There are a few ways to expedite the procedure if you require your settlement check as quickly as possible.
As soon as a settlement seems likely, consider drafting a release form in advance so it will be prepared if an agreement is reached. While the defendant is processing the release form, you should next consult with your lawyer to determine your liens and debts. Finally, to avoid delays, promptly attend to your lawyer's requests.
Ask your lawyer whether they can advance a part of your settlement if you need it while the case is still pending. Your attorney is not required to give you an advance, although they might as a courtesy.