Settling a personal injury claim can shorten the amount of time that you have to wait to get your money, which is a good thing if you have pressing medical bills or need therapy. But in order to get a fair settlement from the other person involved in the accident or their insurance company you need to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.
An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to negotiate in order to get the best possible deal for you. A personal injury attorney is going to fight to get you the most money for your injuries and other expenses. You should always hire a personal injury attorney to negotiate a personal injury settlement for you. It’s virtually impossible to get a good settlement without an attorney.
What Other Steps do You Need to Take?
The length of time it takes for your case to reach a settlement can vary. Your case can be settled both in and out of court. Depending on the case, negotiations can take time.
After a settlement, there are different steps that will be taken depending on where your case was settled and with who. The other party may try to appeal the decision, which will add another year or two for the appeals process. This may also add more time before you receive your check.
If there is no appeals process after a settlement or you won the appeal, your lawyer will wait for the settlement check to come in the mail. You will also have to complete paperwork as well as other steps.
The steps required vary based on when a settlement is reached. If a claim is settled with an insurance company, there are fewer steps and usually a shorter time to wait. Claims that are settled during a trial however get a bit bogged down in legal red tape.
If you settle at trial, the lawyers must report to the court that an agreement was reached. After this occurs, there are several steps required:
- Work with your attorney to complete all the settlement paperwork. This must usually be done within 30 to 60 days from the date the court is notified a settlement was reached.
- Communicate with your lawyer about the “Release,” which is the most crucial document in the settlement paperwork. Your attorney and the defendant’s lawyer may need to negotiate the terms of the release and your input will be needed.
- Visit a notary to sign the finalized Release. After you have had the Release notarized, return it promptly to your attorney for processing with the defendant’s attorney.
Keep up to date on the processing of any liens against your settlement. Before your settlement check can be issued, any liens against your settlement must be paid. These may include child support payments or claims issued by the defendant’s medical insurance provider.
The legal claims to settlement funds vary on a case-by-case basis and your attorney will keep you up to date on liens as they are issued, so there should be no surprises once you settle.
Pay your attorney what he or she is due. In most cases, attorneys receive settlement funds and then issue a check to their client. The attorney typically deducts his or her fees and any charges for legal costs before issuing a check to the client.
Check over the invoice your attorney sends that details the fees and costs. If you disagree with the fees or costs, notify your attorney as soon as possible.
Wait for your check to arrive. If you have no disagreement with the attorney over your portion of the settlement, simply wait for the check to arrive. If you disagree with the legal fees/costs, research and structure your argument and meet with your attorney to resolve the issue.
Your lawyer will still issue a check for the settlement amount on which you do agree. The portion you disagree on is usually held in a trust account until an agreement is reached.
Determine the taxable amount of your settlement funds. Damages paid for physical injuries are generally not taxable. Other portions of your settlement may be though, including damages received for pain and suffering or other “emotional” injuries.
Set aside settlement funds for paying the appropriate taxes after verifying the details with your attorney and a tax accountant.
If you reach a settlement with an insurance company, there will still be settlement paperwork to process and Release documents to sign. Most do not have to be notarized nor do you need to usually wait longer for attorneys to negotiate Release terms.
The circumstances of your personal injury claim may influence how complex these final steps are and whether or not further negotiations are necessary.
Checks issued for insurance settlements are usually sent to the attorney and he or she typically deducts fees and costs due before cutting you a check for your portion.
- If you disagree with them, notify your lawyer as soon as possible and begin the process of verifying your legal responsibilities and the payments you owe the attorney.
- Verify the amount of your settlement that is taxable and set aside funds to pay your tax obligations.
How a Lawyer Can Help Reach a PI Settlement
After an accident that was not your fault you will want to file for personal injury compensation to cover your financial hardship caused by the injury. Even if you believe your case for a settlement is justified and you have all the evidence to support your claim, it is still better to work with an attorney who will present a case for a bigger settlement than you may be prepared to do.
An experienced PI attorney knows that insurers will try to lower the amount of settlement awarded so filing for the highest settlement in the first place is the right thing to do. All insurance companies hire lawyers so they can get the amount of the settlement reduced.
You won’t have a chance of getting a favorable settlement if you negotiate on your own but a PI lawyer knows how to deal with lawyers who work for insurance companies. The playing field is leveled if your PI lawyer negotiates with the at-fault driver’s PI lawyer.
How Do You Know When To Settle?
You may have, with the help of your PI lawyer, prepared your PI claim but this isn’t the end of it but just the start of the negotiation process. You have to go over your claim with your PI lawyer carefully and make sure you have included all your past, present and future costs.
You need to remember that if your injuries are serious and you are never likely to return to work that you need to calculate the costs caused by the accident that are likely to be ongoing for the rest of your life. There may be permanent and drastic changes to your lifestyle that you need to value and include in your PI claim.
Once you have filed your demand letter you will not have the chance to include anything else later on. If you are going to need daily assistance in your home you will need to calculate a cash value of this and include it in your claim.
You can dispute any check amount you have been sent by the insurer if you are not happy with the payout but one thing you should not do is deposit any check received into your bank account.
Once you have done that the insurer will think you are happy with the payment and will make it very difficult to renegotiate your claim. The important part of any PI claim is having a personal injury lawyer working on your behalf.
When Will Your Settlement Check Arrive?
The time it takes for a settlement check to arrive depends on:
- How complex your claim was
- When the settlement agreement was reached
If you settle with an insurance company, you will have a check in hand sooner than if you settle while your case is at trial.
Some insurance settlements are reached in just a matter of weeks. Others can take months. You will typically have an insurance settlement check within just a few weeks of agreement being reached.
If a lawsuit is required in your case though, you may wait months or years for a settlement to be reached and then another month or longer before your settlement check arrives.