Once you’ve settled your personal injury case, there remains a time period before you can put a check into your bank. Behind the scenes, your attorney and the insurance company are ironing out the final details and tying up all loose ends.
All personal injury cases are unique. Most personal injury settlements finalize within 30 days, but any number of factors could speed up or slow down that timeline. You might be lucky and be able to deposit that money in a week. In complex cases involving Medicare you might have to wait six months. There is no hard and fast rule. If you have appropriate expectations, this process is easier to handle.
The Six Steps You Need To Take To Receive Your Settlement Check
1. Sign A Release and Other Legal Documents
Once a settlement in your case is reached, the lawyers will draft a series of release forms, which can sometimes be 10 or 20 pages long. Your attorney will read the release carefully to identify any issues, and may propose changes before reaching an agreement. If the settlement is controversial or paints the defendant in a poor light, the other side may insist on a confidential settlement. Once the release is approved by your lawyer, they’ll have you sign it.
2. Insurance Company Processes Release And Issues Check
After the insurance company receives your signed release forms, they’ll process them and send a check to your attorney. This check will be for the agreed upon amount, but as you’ll see below, many things need to happen before you put money in your bank account. Insurance companies typically send a check within 7-10 business days.
3. Lawyer Deposits Check Into Trust Account
Once your attorney receives the insurance check, they will then put it into a special trust or escrow account, as required by law. Most banks require funds to be held for seven business days to make sure the check is good and has cleared. While these delays can be frustrating, they are required by law.
Some people wonder what happens to the interest on these trust accounts. Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) programs exist in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
4. Lawyer Pays Off Your Debts
After your settlement check clears through the trust account, your attorney will typically first use that money to pay off your various unpaid debts, or liens. If you’ve been in an accident, it’s unlikely that you had the cash available to pay out-of-pocket for your treatment.
Your attorney might have to send portions of your settlement money to medical providers with unpaid bills for treatment, insurance companies which provided initial coverage for payment of medical bills and other costs, and sometimes even collection agencies.
5. Lawyer Deducts Legal Fees And Other Costs
Once your liens are resolved, the attorney will then deduct legal fees and costs from your settlement. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, however. Your attorney fees will amount to a certain percentage of your settlement, as outlined in the contract you signed when you hired your attorney.
Lawyers and their staff should keep detailed records of all legal costs. If you have any concerns about the costs associated with your case, ask for an itemized report and discuss with your attorney.
6. You Receive A Final Settlement Check
Once you have signed the release, paid off all outstanding bills and liens, and legal fees and costs have been deducted, you receive the remainder of your settlement money.
How To Deposit An Insurance Settlement Check
You’ve gone through the entire process outlined above. The check is finally in your hands. Now, how do you go about depositing it?
Deposit the settlement check just like any normal check. Yes, most personal injury firms still issue paper checks to their clients. When you hand the bank teller the check, they may bring over a manager for authorization, especially if the amount is quite large. After you’ve deposited the check, your bank will likely call the issuing bank to verify that the account has the proper funds for the check to clear.
Don't Settle For Less - Get A Second Opinion
If you are reading this article, it likely means you are anxious about getting your settlement money quickly. While patience can be scarce in difficult times, it's important to understand that you may be leaving money on the table if you're trying to negotiate your settlement on your own. Consulting with a personal injury lawyer may help you better understand your legal rights and whether you may be able to recover a higher level of financial compensation with an attorney's help.
In most cases, our injured clients receive more money after hiring us than the insurance company was offering them initially, even after deducting attorney's fees. That's because our attorneys are experienced at getting the maximum value for our clients and their loved ones.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an car accident in Washington state, the legal team at Davis Law Group, P.S., is here to help you get the compensation you deserve. Attorney Chris Davis has been practicing law in the Evergreen State for nearly 25 years and has recovered millions in damages for his clients. Contact Davis Law Group today. Call (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the form on this page for a free case evaluation.