Sustaining a personal injury from an accident is scary. You are likely dealing with medical treatment to recover from your injuries, and you may be unable to work. Medical expenses may pile up, and you might find it challenging to pay for other living expenses.
Many injured individuals pursue a personal injury lawsuit to obtain compensation for their costs however most personal injury lawsuits never make it to trial. Instead, a personal injury attorney negotiates a settlement agreement with the insurance company on behalf of the plaintiff.
Cases resolved through the settlement process often take much less time to complete than court cases. Cases that must undergo a trial may take a year or longer to complete, while settled cases may resolve in a few months.
However, even if your case settles, receiving your settlement funds can still take time. The settlement check timeline often takes over a month to complete, and in rare cases, it can take much longer.
What Is a Settlement Check?
A settlement check compensates personal injury victims for the expenses and costs they’ve incurred due to injury.
Before the issue of a settlement check, both parties must reach an agreement. The settlement agreement discharges the defendant from further claims concerning the incident.
Once both parties agree and sign the legal settlement papers, the court system removes the case from its docket.
The total settlement comprises damages that the plaintiff sustained from their injuries. Common types of compensation included in the final settlement are:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
When the plaintiff and defendant agree to a settlement, they believe the compensation is fair given the circumstances of the injury.
Typical Timeline to Receive a Settlement Check
Reaching a settlement agreement is often a massive relief to the plaintiff, especially when negotiations have been lengthy. Knowing that you’ll have the money to pay medical bills and other expenses soon can be a considerable boost. You can finally move on from your lawsuit and focus on your recovery and everyday life.
However, the settlement check timeline isn’t always fast. While most plaintiffs receive their settlement money within six weeks following a personal injury settlement, the process may take longer. Remember that the judicial system doesn’t consider a case fully settled until a plaintiff’s attorney receives a check from the defendant and it has cleared the bank.
Following the settlement, the defendant must issue a check. Problems arise if the defendant doesn’t have the money to pay the claim. If no money is available, the personal injury attorney will attempt to negotiate a payment plan with the defendant. Negotiating a payment plan may take a few weeks.
The court system may hinder the issuance of settlement proceeds. Both parties must sign documents and forms to release the case from further court proceedings, signaling their intent to settle.
Even with technological improvements, it is not uncommon for the court to lose paperwork. Lost paperwork will require both parties to provide newly signed forms to finalize the settlement agreement.
Finally, simple government bureaucracy may result in a delayed settlement check. If the defendant is an insurance company, the organization likely issues thousands of settlement checks within a week. The insurance company can easily lose your check in the shuffle, or the court may not process its receipt for several weeks.
What Is the Order of Settlement?
Once the plaintiff and defendant agree to a settlement, they must notify an officer of the court. The court will provide an Order of Settlement, which requires both parties to finalize their agreement within thirty or sixty days. State law sets the time limit for the completion of the settlement.
The release forms are essential to fulfilling the Order of Settlement. The defendant’s legal team prepares a release form. The release form includes specific terms and conditions of the settlement, such as:
- Release of the defendant from future claims concerning the personal injury
- Agreement to release the defendant from fault for the accident
- Prevention of future liability claims by the plaintiff to the insurance company
Before signing the release form, the plaintiff must carefully review the terms and conditions. The defendant’s legal team must draft a new release form if the terms and conditions are unsatisfactory to either party. In rare cases, parties may refute the settlement if they can’t agree on the terms and conditions of a release form.
Steps in the Settlement Check Timeline
It is helpful to understand what is involved before your personal injury settlement check can be released. Sometimes, the knowledge can help you estimate when you’ll receive the money you need for unpaid medical bills and other expenses.
Step 1: Release Forms Are Signed and Processed
The release form is one of the most critical parts of the settlement process. It precludes you from filing future litigation against the defendant for the injury you sustained. If multiple defendants exist in your case, such as a health insurance company and the negligent party, several release forms are required to complete the settlement process.
It’s important to realize that signing a release form does not prevent you from future litigation against a defendant in a new case. For example, if you are injured six months later in a new accident and the same defendant is responsible, you can file a new claim against them. However, you cannot file a new lawsuit against them for the same accident.
Before signing a release form, you must understand the terms and conditions of the agreement. Your injury attorney can review the release form with you to ensure you aren’t signing a contract that isn’t favorable to you. If you or your personal injury lawyer don’t agree with the release form, the defendant’s legal team must draft a new one.
Once your release form is signed, your lawyer will send it to the defendant’s legal team and the insurance company. Upon receipt of the release form, most states give the defendant up to thirty days to send the settlement check. However, the standard practice is to issue a final settlement check within 7 to 10 days.
Step 2: The Settlement Check Is Deposited into a Trust Account
Once your legal counsel receives the settlement check, your attorney will deposit the check into a trust or escrow account. Keeping the check in escrow ensures that it will not bounce and that the defendant has the funds to settle the lawsuit. When the bank clears the check, the bank notifies the attorney that proceeds are available for distribution.
Step 3: Bills and Legal Fees Must Be Paid
The next step in the settlement process is paying bills.
If the case has dragged on for a while, medical providers may have placed medical liens against the settlement. If the plaintiff received Medicare or Medicaid, it is not unusual for a government agency to require repayment for medical treatments. If your insurance company provided you with benefits for your injury, your attorney would need to reimburse them.
Your attorney will deduct the fees for their services from your settlement check. Personal injury attorneys typically charge a percentage of your settlement award or court verdict. Other attorney’s fees, such as filing fees, accident reconstruction, and expert witness testimony, may be added.
Step 4: You Receive Your Settlement Check
When your attorney and the defendant complete the steps of the settlement process, you receive a settlement check. Attorneys usually issue a paper check via mail, but in some cases, your lawyer may send funds through direct deposit. The money you receive is yours to keep and spend however you like.
Possible Delays in Receiving Your Settlement Funds
The most common delay in settlement funds is the processing time, which may be up to 60 days in some states. However, other factors may delay the settlement check process.
Factors that may defer your personal injury claim include:
- The lawsuit involves an estate
- A minor is part of the claim
- The release form is signed improperly
- A defendant, such as an insurance company, is based in another state than the plaintiff
- Your lawyer must negotiate a lien against your settlement
- The law firm, court, or insurance company makes an administrative error
Any of the above situations may delay your personal injury settlement check receipt.
How Do I Expedite the Settlement Check Process?
In most cases, there isn’t much you can do to accelerate the issuance of your settlement check. You can review the terms of your release form with your attorney in anticipation of a settlement offer. Other delays are the responsibility of the court and the defendant.
However, you can apply for post-settlement funding if you can’t wait for your settlement check. Lawsuit funding companies like Stonewood Funding provide post-settlement loans.
You don’t need a credit check or current employment to qualify for a post-settlement lawsuit loan. Stonewood Funding offers post-settlement loans based on settlement offers delayed by factors you can’t control.
The loans provided by Stonewood Funding are non-recourse, which means that we assume the risk that your settlement will fall through. In the unlikely event that your settlement fails, you do not repay the loan you borrowed from us. Stonewood Funding assumes the entire risk of lending you money.
When you obtain a post-settlement loan through Stonewood Funding, there is no need to make monthly payments. Instead, the balance of your loan is repaid to us by your lawyer when your settlement check clears. You can use the loan for medical bills, groceries, rent payments, or other costs.
You may be familiar with pre-settlement funding. Pre-settlement funding is a loan provided to plaintiffs whose case is in process. Since the outcome is unknown, pre-settlement funding is riskier for lawsuit loan companies. Pre-settlement funding often involves high-interest rates since the lender assumes the risk that the lawyer will lose the case.
Post-settlement funding is cheaper than pre-settlement loans. Stonewood Funding offers lower interest rates on post-settlement loans since they are not as risky. The process of receiving a post-settlement loan with Stonewood Funding follows these three steps.
Step 1: Apply for Post-Settlement Funding
The application process is straightforward. You may fill out our online form or call us at 844-544-3863. You must provide us with your contact information and the name of your attorney. We will ask you for the details of your case. Our firm offers post-settlement funding for personal injury cases, car accident lawsuits, and many other claims.
Step 2: We Review Your Case
We will need to speak with your personal injury attorney to understand your case and settlement terms. To expedite the process, we recommend that you notify your attorney that you have applied for a post-settlement loan with Stonewood Funding.
While we can attempt to contact your lawyer for you, they are often more receptive if they understand what you are doing.
Asking your lawyer to contact us when they have time may also quicken the lending process. Many attorneys have busy caseloads that require them to meet with different clients and sometimes appear in court. By contacting us on their own time, they will have no need to play phone tag between their office and us.
Once we receive the necessary information, we’ll review your case and determine whether it qualifies for a loan. If it does, we’ll provide you with the loan amount and a contract you and your attorney must sign.
Step 3: We Send You the Money!
Once your loan is processed, we’ll deposit the money in your account within the next business day. There is no need to make monthly payments on your loan. Your balance will be deducted from your settlement check and paid to us by your lawyer.
Do You Need Post-Settlement Funding?
If you can’t wait any longer for your settlement funds, Stonewood Funding can help. We offer post-settlement loans to individuals involved in personal injury litigation.
Still have pending questions? Contact your local Los Angeles lawsuit loan company today!