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How Do I Get My Settlement Check After My Personal Injury Case Settles?

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settlement check after personal injury case

You had a personal injury claim, and the process finally concluded. Congratulations! You have probably waited patiently for this through the investigations, negotiations, and medical evaluations; now, the hard part is over. Likewise, you can begin the process of determining what your life will be like with these legal processes behind you and focus your attention elsewhere. 

It is time to discuss the compensatory damages that you have recovered. The money that was most likely obtained out of court by your personal injury lawyer and perhaps an insurance company will finally be available to you. At any rate, you will now receive a check for the amount owed to you for your injuries. It is likely going to be a significant amount.

The dollar amount may excite you at first, but your lawyer will take some fees out of it. You may have to wait a little longer for the insurance company to finish their process, then you will pay legal fees and wait for the check to clear escrow.

The Settlement Check Process Explained

Once all parties have agreed on a settlement agreement, they will receive an Order of Settlement document. All parties will need to complete the paperwork within 30 or 60 days, depending on the court order.

Typically, the defense attorney will prepare the release document containing terms and conditions regarding the settlement. This document stipulates that you will not pursue any additional damages from the at-fault party and releases them from any further obligation for the injuries related to your claim.

After drafting this document, the defense will send it to your attorney. They will review it to ensure that the terms and conditions are correct and do not violate your rights. If there are any terms that are not in your best interest, your lawyer may send the document back and ask for a revision. 

If, for any reason, they cannot resolve the issue and make the document mutually beneficial, then a judge may step in to rectify the disagreement. Such discrepancies may delay you getting your hands on that check.

Once all parties mutually agree on the particulars, you will finally receive the document, which you should read carefully before signing. If you need any clarification, you should defer to your attorney. At Michael T. Gibson, PA, we always encourage our clients to ask questions about their personal injury cases.

You will need to sign the documents in front of a notary public. Once you sign these papers, you cannot change any terms or conditions. Upon signing, this means that you are in full agreement with everything in the document. The case is officially complete.

Who holds my settlement check?

Every case is different; however, the insurance company processes the settlement check in most personal injury cases. They will not write a check until they sign and return the release form. Once they have the release, then they will begin the check processing in a timely fashion.

In most cases, the insurance company will send the check to your lawyer’s office. Your attorney will then deduct all appropriate fees applicable to your case, including their percentage, as an agreed-upon contingency fee for handling your case. Other expenses paid from your settlement may include:

  • Court filing fees
  • Expert witness fees
  • Mailing and copying costs
  • Investigation costs

After your attorney deducts the appropriate amount from the check, the rest belongs to you.

This may seem like a relatively quick and simple process. In some cases, it may very well be. When the check arrives at the law firm, your attorney deposits the check into an escrow account. It will need to stay there until the bank says there is enough money to cover the check. After the check clears, your attorney will give you your part of the settlement.

There are some things that can slow the process of your settlement check being released to you. For example, if you have any outstanding liens, you may take a while to release the money.

What is a lien? 

A lien refers to any outstanding debt that you owe. For example, if you received medical treatment which you were unable to pay for at the time of your injury, your healthcare provider may issue medical liens requiring you to reimburse these costs out of your settlement. If you have any liens, your attorney cannot release your check until they pay them out of your portion.

You could owe a lien for a variety of reasons. You may have unpaid medical bills, child support, etc. These liens ultimately serve to protect your interests, as you could face serious legal trouble if you did not pay off your liens before receiving your funds. 

Many companies offer what’s known as pre-settlement funding, or “lawsuit loans,” to give victims access to funds while their settlement is still being negotiated. However, you should be wary of these agencies. If you find yourself in dire financial need before your settlement check is released, your lawyer can help you determine the best course of action, including managing any liens accrued throughout the lifecycle of your case.

Do lawyers mail settlement checks?

After your lawyer takes care of all the liens, costs associated with a case, and their fee, they will write you a check for the remainder of the amount. You can expect your money within six weeks or so after the insurance company receives your signed release.

Can my lawyer cash my settlement check if I don’t have a bank account?

Once you have received your check in the mail, you can deposit it in your bank account. But what happens if you do not have a bank account? How are you supposed to cash the check?

You can still cash the settlement check if you do not have a bank account. Of course, the business that you choose may charge a check-cashing fee.

One obvious solution to this problem is to go to the bank that issued the check. You may need to bring two forms of identification, especially if you are not a customer at the bank. Some banks may charge a fee to cash checks for people who do not do business with them. But not all of them will charge you.

Another option is to find a convenience or retail store that offers check cashing as a service. Walmart offers a check cashing service, but they do have a limit on the amount they will cash. Each retail or convenience store will have different policies stating how much they will cash for you and their check-cashing fees. Usually, places will instantly cash the check for you without a waiting period.

Check cashing companies are in the business of cashing checks for those who do not use banks. However, when you use a payday loan and check-cashing companies, they may charge high fees. You will also need to present a photo ID to use their service.

Your best solution is to open a bank account.

What do I do with my insurance settlement money?

Now that you have your personal injury settlement, you might wonder what you can do with the money. Protect yourself by checking the law to see if you owe taxes on your settlement. Do not get in trouble for failure to pay taxes.

Thereafter, you can decide how to spend the money.

  • Paying off your debt should be at the top of your priority list. Paying medical bills, credit cards, or customer charge accounts with your favorite stores are responsible ways to make good use of your money. It feels good when you can start over debt-free.
  • Opening a savings account is a smart move. Depositing a large settlement check all at once may not be ideal. However, you might deposit enough money for you and your family to survive comfortably for several months.
  • If you have already paid off your debts and started a savings account for emergencies, you may want to invest your money.

There are many ways to invest. You may invest in stocks or bonds, but you can also invest in your children’s education. Set aside a college fund for them. Or, if you have ever wanted to go back to school, now would be a great time to take classes.

If you own your home, you can invest in it as well. Get a new roof, put up a privacy fence, put in a pool or a spa, or how about building a deck? These are all great ideas to increase the property value of your home. Whether you choose to live in your home for the rest of your days or sell it, putting money into your home to increase its value is a solid decision.

If you do not own a home, perhaps you can now afford to buy one. Or maybe your car is an older model that has been breaking down, costing you a fortune. Now would be a good time to replace the old clunker and buy a newer, more efficient vehicle.

Personal Injury Lawyer Orlando, FL - Michael T. Gibson
Personal Injury Attorney Michael T. Gibson

Take Care Once You Get Your Check

You are probably very excited about getting your personal injury settlement. You now have quite a bit of money at your disposal. This may feel like a massive win or even a point of pride you want to tell everyone about. However, there is good reason to be cautious after depositing a large settlement check. 

  • Take care with whom you trust with this information. You would rather not learn the hard way who you can and cannot trust in these situations. Many people tend to find themselves taken advantage of soon after receiving their settlement amount. You do not want everybody you know to come to you with financial requests that make you feel uncomfortable and leave you broke.
  • Try to avoid making quick decisions. Hold on to the money for a while and think about the different ways it can benefit you in your current situation. Decide the best options to take and strategically plan them out. This will help you retain more of your money for a longer time.
  • Keep yourself on a budget. One of the biggest problems people face when they feel the need to spend freely. Money goes fast if you don’t plan your spending ahead of time. You may not have to have as tight of a budget as you may have had to in the past, but you should try to keep it as modest as possible.

Your personal injury case may have taken a very long time to reach a satisfactory offer for compensation. And depending on several factors, it may have taken a long time for you to receive the check after you settled. But rest assured, spending the money will not take a long time if you don’t exercise care.

Are You in Need of Legal Assistance?

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We know that accidents don’t always happen during business hours. That’s why our experienced lawyers are standing by, 24/7/365, to listen to your story, evaluate your claim, and help you decide what to do next. Call us now and we’ll see if we can pursue compensation for your injuries!

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