If you’re involved in a personal injury lawsuit, you’ve likely been waiting for a settlement agreement to pay your outstanding medical bills, living expenses, and other debts. Litigation is often a slow process, and it’s not unusual for cases to drag on for months or years before settlement.
You’re probably thrilled if you’ve received a settlement award however, like litigation, certain factors may hold you up from actually receiving your settlement check.
So you might be wondering: How long can a lawyer legally hold your settlement check?
Let’s first examine the potential reasons why your settlement check can be delayed, and then we’ll talk about the average time frame for receiving your check following a settlement award.
What Factors Cause Your Settlement Check To Be Delayed?
Several factors can delay your settlement check, and in most cases, there is little you can do but wait unless you apply for post-settlement funding. Factors that hinder settlement payment include:
Issues with Release Forms
In most cases, a plaintiff must agree to sign a release form before a settlement payment is made. The release form notifies the defendant that you are releasing them from further legal action concerning your case. You may need to sign multiple release forms if you have sued multiple people or entities.
Occasionally, a plaintiff will have several open lawsuits with the same defendant or an insurance company. If you have other cases open, you’ll want to ensure your release form doesn’t release them from liability from the other lawsuits.
Before asking you to sign a release form, your lawyer will carefully review the terms and conditions to ensure you aren’t jeopardizing your other claims.
Sometimes the defendant or their lawyer may disagree with certain conditions in the release form. If they do so, attorneys must rewrite the release form. Both parties must agree to the terms of the form before proceeding with the settlement process.
Determining Payment Amounts
Sometimes the terms of a settlement agreement aren’t clear. Your attorney may be unsure of the amount you are due — your personal injury attorney may need to determine expenses for administrating your case, including the cost of filing and the fees incurred.
It may take a few days for them to determine how much of your settlement should go to you and how much is for legal services. You will need to wait while they calculate the final settlement amount applicable to you. Your attorney will hold your settlement funds in an escrow account until the proper payment amounts are determined.
Processing Time and Delays
Some states allow parties involved to delay making their settlement payment during an established processing time. Defendants may take advantage of the processing time and hold on to your settlement money until the entire period has passed. If the time allowed is more than a few weeks, you may have to wait to receive your settlement check.
Once both parties agree upon a settlement, the defendant issues a settlement check. When your lawyer receives the check, they will deposit it in an escrow account for you until it clears. Larger settlement checks may take five to seven days before they clear.
Your lawyer must deduct any charges owed to them for their legal services, as well as settle any outstanding debts and liens that you owe pertaining to your case. They will send you the balance of your settlement via mail or wire transfer.
Paying Bills and Liens
You may have accumulated medical liens or other bills you must repay when litigation has been going on for a while. If your case went to trial, you might have expenses related to expert witness testimony or private investigations. Your attorney has a legal obligation to ensure all outstanding debts are clear before providing you with the balance of your settlement.
Some victims of personal injury obtain insurance through Medicare or Medicaid, pending the outcome of their personal injury lawsuit. In such cases, Medicare and Medicaid can file a lien against your settlement funds.
Your lawyer repays the lien with money from your final settlement. Clearing up government liens can take time, and there are certain forms and obligations your personal injury attorney must handle before your payment is released.
Outstanding debts are a common reason for your lawyer to hold your settlement check. Until your lawyer makes payments to the lienholders and lenders, you will have to wait to get your settlement money.
What If You Have a Structured Settlement?
Occasionally, a personal injury case results in a structured settlement. Structured settlements are usually given to individuals who were minors at the time of their injury or who have severe injuries requiring years of medical treatment.
In a structured settlement, the defendant sets up an annuity that pays the victim a certain amount on a regular schedule. The defendant will send settlement checks monthly, quarterly, or yearly for a specified period.
Structured settlements can be complicated, and you must understand the terms of your agreement. Carefully read over the terms of a structured settlement to know if you will receive an upfront settlement and how much it will be. You should also see how the defendant will distribute your future settlement checks.
How Can I Speed Up the Delivery of My Settlement Check?
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to expedite the delivery of your settlement check except prepare for the settlement check process with your personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can prepare the release forms and review them with you before the settlement offer. That way, once your lawyer receives the settlement offer, they can have the documents ready for you to sign.
However, you can apply for post-settlement funding with Stonewood Funding. Stonewood Funding provides you with a loan that you can use for medical bills and other living expenses pending receipt of your settlement check.
Post-settlement settlement loans are different from pre-settlement funding. When obtaining pre-settlement funding, the lending company will review the facts of your case to determine whether you are eligible for a lawsuit loan. They’ll consider various factors, such as the evidence and the likelihood that you will win your case.
Frequently, pre-settlement funding is more costly because the legal funding company assumes the risk of non-payment of the loan if you lose your case.
However, for post-settlement loans, lawsuit loan companies determine the amount of your loan based on your settlement agreement. Interest rates are typically much lower, and you may not need the loan for very long before your settlement check is released.
Once your settlement has cleared, your personal injury lawyer repays the lending company directly from your settlement check.
How Does Post-Settlement Funding Work?
Post-settlement funding is different from a traditional bank loan. While a bank will require you to apply for a loan using your credit score and employment history, post-settlement funding is based entirely on the value of your settlement.
There is no credit check, and if you are currently not able to work, it’s okay. Your employment is not a factor in obtaining the loan. The amount of your settlement is the sole determining factor of a post-settlement lawsuit loan.
While traditional loans require monthly payments, that isn’t the case with a lawsuit loan. Once you obtain lawsuit loan funding, you are under no obligation to make payments. The full amount of your post-settlement loan is subtracted from your settlement. Your lawyer will repay the loan directly to the post-settlement funding company.
Post-settlement funding is less expensive than pre-settlement funding because the outcome of your case is already known. Interest rates are lower for post-settlement loans since the company is not assuming the risk that your case will fail and it will lose its money. The money is already guaranteed; unexpected delays just hold it up.
You’ll go through a simple three-step process to obtain post-settlement funding with Stonewood Funding:
Step 1: Apply for the Loan
You can apply for post-settlement funding with Stonewood Funding through our online application or by calling 844-544-3863. When you do, you’ll give us basic information about your case, including your settlement amount and who is responsible for paying the money. We’ll review the information you provide us before speaking with your attorney.
Step 2: Case Review
We’ll speak with your attorney during the review process concerning your settlement. Your attorney will provide us with the details of your final settlement, including when they expect the payment to settle.
Once our underwriting team reviews the facts of your case and the settlement information, we’ll provide you with a loan agreement. You and your attorney should review the terms of the agreement before signing and returning the contract to us.
Step 3: You Receive Your Loan!
When we receive the signed contract, we can begin transferring money to your bank account. Typically, you’ll receive the cash advance you need within the next business day. Sometimes, we can provide you with funding on the same day.
Get Cash from Your Settled Case Today!
Waiting on the settlement check process to finalize can be frustrating, especially if you have already fought a long battle through negotiations or in court. If you can’t wait any longer for the settlement process to finalize, it’s time to take action.
Questions? Contact your local Los Angeles lawsuit loan company today!