Personal injury cases often last for months or even years. During that time, if you are like most people, you are likely struggling financially, trying to keep up with unpaid bills and possibly dealing with lost wages.
News of a legal settlement in your case is likely the ray of sunshine you’ve been waiting for. However, delays in the settlement process can result in further weeks of waiting.
This article breaks down what goes on in the settlement process and how you can track your settlement check.
The Order of Settlement Process: Reason For Delays
When you and an insurance company reach a settlement agreement, your attorney notifies an officer of the court. The officer of the court prepares an Order of Settlement. State laws dictate how long the parties involved have to follow the Order of Settlement, but typically both parties have between 30 to 60 days to meet the court’s requirements.
Release forms are often the most significant hold-up to the issuance of a settlement check. The defense attorney prepares the release form. It contains the terms and conditions of the settlement.
While the terms of a release form may vary, most require that the plaintiff refrains from pursuing a new legal claim against the defendant. The form may also require that the plaintiff release the defendant from fault for the incident.
You and your attorney should review the release form document carefully before signing it in front of a notary public and returning it to the defendant’s legal team. If you disagree with any of the release form terms or your personal injury attorney believes that the terms are unfavorable, the defense attorney must draft a new agreement.
A delay in the signed release form process will result in a postponement in receiving your settlement check.
No process is perfect, and administrative delays can occur. Internal organizational factors can hold up the process if an insurance company is responsible for issuing your settlement check.
The civil court system can also play a role in administrative delays. If a clerical employee makes an error, that mistake can add additional delays to receiving your check.
Lack of Money
Occasionally, the defendant cannot provide settlement money due to a lack of funds. If your at-fault party doesn’t have money to pay their bill, your attorney will likely try to arrange a payment plan. Negotiations of payment plans can result in further delays to your settlement check.
Release of Your Settlement Check to Your Attorney’s Office
Your attorney will notify you when your settlement check has arrived. However, the law firm must hold your check in an escrow account or trust account until the bank clears it. Typically, your settlement check will clear within five to seven days.
While your check is in the process of clearing, your attorney determines how much of the check payable is due to satisfy other claims. For example, you may have medical liens or unpaid medical expenses that your attorney must pay from your settlement amount. Your lawyer also receives their payment for attorney fees from your settlement check.
Any other fees related to your personal injury claim must be paid, such as medical evaluations, expert witness testimony, and deposition fees. Your attorney will ensure all liens are paid to the appropriate parties.
Once your attorney has deducted all relevant expenses, including legal services, legal fees, pending liens to public health care providers, child support, and applicable case costs, the remaining balance is yours.
You Receive Your Settlement Check
Once your attorney has settled all outstanding liens, the law firm mails the settlement amount to you. You can deposit the check into your bank account and use the funds however you wish. Many people choose to save money for future medical expenses, but you can use it for other costs, such as rent or groceries, if you are unable to work.
Delays in the Settlement Check Process: Post-Settlement Funding
Unfortunately, the settlement check process isn’t always quick. If you are experiencing delays obtaining the settlement funds you’ve been waiting for, consider applying for post-settlement funding.
Post-settlement funding is a lending process that allows you to obtain a cash advance for settlement checks. No credit checks are required to obtain post-settlement funds, and you do not need to be employed to qualify.
The post-settlement funding company reviews your settlement offer to determine how much you are eligible for before sending a formal legal agreement for the loan.
Post-settlement funding is beneficial for individuals stuck in the settlement process. Obtaining a post-settlement loan allows personal injury victims access to money they need without worrying about a lengthy settlement process with an insurance company.
Post-settlement loans do not require monthly payments; instead, the balance on the loan and any accrued interest are directly deducted from the settlement check when it is received.
How Is Post-Settlement Funding Different From Pre-Settlement Funding?
Plaintiffs involved in an insurance claim may be familiar with pre-settlement funding.
Pre-settlement funding involves obtaining a loan based on the expected value of an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. You and your lawyer work with a lawsuit loan company to explain the facts of your case and the expectations for resolution.
Based on the information provided, the pre-settlement funding company will decide whether to issue you a loan. As a non-recourse form of lending, the loan is forgiven if your attorney fails to win your case. You do not make payments on your loan while it is outstanding; instead, your loan balance is repaid when your case settles.
Post-settlement funding is similar, but your loan amount is determined by the settlement offer, not your attorney’s expectation. You’ve already won your case; your settlement check is just delayed by factors you can’t control.
If you obtain a post-settlement loan, you do not make any payments until your settlement check arrives. Once it does, your attorney will pay the post-settlement lending company directly from the balance of your settlement.
Interest rates are typically lower for post-settlement loans. Since the case’s outcome is known, the lender assumes less risk. You’ll likely pay less interest for a post-settlement loan since plaintiffs receive most settlement checks within six to eight weeks following a settlement.
Why Is My Settlement Taking So Long?
You are likely impatient for your settlement check to arrive. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to speed up the process. If your defendant is an insurance company, they likely have procedures they must follow before releasing your check. A defense attorney may also slow the process if they don’t have proper release forms ready for you to sign.
While there isn’t much you can do to expedite the settlement check process, consider post-settlement funding if you’re in a financial bind, owe child support, or have outstanding medical expenses you need to pay.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Settlement Check After Signing a Release Form?
Once the at-fault party, such as an insurance company, receives your signed release forms, the settlement process can proceed quickly. Insurance companies release settlement checks once they have completed their internal processes.
However, the check will still need to clear in an escrow account, and your attorney’s office will pay outstanding insurance claims, legal fees, legal services, and outstanding liens. The financial recovery process isn’t easy, but it’s well worth it once you receive your settlement check.
What Can I Do to Track My Settlement Check?
Understanding the settlement process is crucial to understanding how to track your settlement check. If you know where your settlement is in the process, both you and your attorney can estimate how much longer it will be until you receive the money you need.
Once your attorney receives the settlement check from the insurance company and deducts legal fees, contingency fees, pending liens, and other outstanding debts, you’ll receive the money you’ve been waiting for.
Do You Need a Post-Settlement Loan?
Waiting on settlement checks can be frustrating, especially when you have bills to pay. To obtain an advance on your legal settlement, contact Stonewood Funding.
We provide post-settlement loans that you can use to meet your bills while waiting on a personal injury settlement check.
Do you still have questions? Contact your local Los Angeles pre-settlement company today!