Experiencing an accident can have many severe effects on your life. You may suffer a life-altering injury, lose time at work, and face mounting medical and accident-related bills.
It’s understandable to want to reach a settlement and get your money as quickly as possible. Many people wonder, “How long does it take to get the money after settling?”
Several factors affect your case’s timing and when you can expect to get your settlement money. If at any point during your case you have doubts regarding your settlement, make sure to share your concerns with your personal injury attorney.
Type of Compensation Available for Personal Injury Cases
If you are in a bad financial situation because of expenses related to a personal injury you experienced, seeking compensation can relieve some of your financial burdens.
Damages for injuries fall into two distinct categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages represent your tangible losses. These damages are often easier to calculate and prove because the evidence is usually readily available.
Economic damages include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, represent your intangible losses. These damages are not as easy to calculate as economic damages and often require additional evidence to prove.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Physical impairment
Generally, there are no caps for damages in California. However, an exception exists for medical malpractice cases. Non-economic damages for a medical malpractice case cannot exceed $250,000.
In some cases, victims may be able to receive punitive damages. Under California law, punitive damages may be available in malice, oppression, or fraud cases. These damages can compensate victims and punish liable parties for their wrongful actions.
Determining the value of your case is one of the most challenging parts of a personal injury claim. However, a personal injury attorney knows how to review the details of your situation and assign value to your case.
How Long Does It Take to Get Paid After a Settlement?
There is no average time you can expect to get your settlement check. There are many tasks to take care of before you receive your settlement check.
Your personal injury lawyer will focus all their energy on getting you the fairest possible settlement. After they’re able to settle your case, it can take a few weeks for the opposing party and your attorney to complete all of the necessary steps before you’re able to get your settlement payment.
Put patience is often necessary to ensure your personal injury attorney has the opportunity to obtain maximum compensation.
Factors Affecting How Long It Takes to Settle Your Case
Many details play a role in determining how long it takes to settle your case. The longer it takes to settle your case, the more time it will take to get paid.
The most common factors affecting the time it takes to resolve your personal injury case include:
- The time your medical treatment takes
- The time it takes for you to recover from your injuries
- How responsive the insurance company is
- The insurance company’s willingness to settle
- Whether you need to file a personal injury lawsuit
- The time your lawsuit takes
- Whether your case goes to trial
Your attorney will try to speed up the process as much as possible, but it is not entirely up to them. Your lawyer also relies on the opposing party’s participation, and sometimes they can slow down the process by failing to be responsive or refusing to engage in settlement negotiations.
No matter what happens with your case or whether your case settles outside the courtroom or at trial, you can trust your personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will do everything with your best interests in mind, aiming to consistently steer your case in the right direction.
What to Expect Before Reaching a Settlement
Much can happen before you can settle your case with the insurance company. While every case is different, below are the steps you can expect in most personal injury claims.
Filing a Claim
Depending on the accident or incident that caused your injuries, you may need to file a claim with the insurance company. If you have not done so right after your accident, your personal injury lawyer can assist you with filing a claim.
Investigating Your Case
Your attorney needs to investigate your situation and begin collecting evidence. E Your lawyer needs evidence to calculate your damages.
Sending a Demand Letter
Once your personal injury attorney investigates your claim, they may send the insurance company a demand letter.
Demand letters include:
- Details regarding your accident and resulting injuries
- Financial losses you’ve incurred
- An explanation of their insured’s liability with accompanying evidence
The demand letter will also include a figure at the end representing the value of your case. By sending a demand letter, your personal injury lawyer hopes the insurance company settles the claim quickly. The demand letter may not get you the desired result, but it is only the first step in negotiations.
Insurance companies rarely agree to the settlement requested in the demand letter right away. However, do not panic if the insurance company denies your lawyer’s first demand.
It is common for insurance companies to send a response with a lower offer for settlement than the one your lawyer demanded. After receiving the response, your attorney can begin negotiations with the insurance company. Your lawyer and the insurance company may go back and forth several times with different demands and offers.
In some cases, attorneys can successfully negotiate with insurance companies and reach an agreement. If your lawyer successfully settles with the insurance company, you can proceed to signing settlement documents and receiving your check.
If the insurance company refuses to settle for a fair figure, your lawyer may need to proceed with a lawsuit. However, there’s no need to stress, as many personal injury claims settle before going to court.
Filing a Lawsuit, If Necessary
If necessary, your attorney will file a lawsuit against the insurance company to pursue fair compensation on your behalf.
Your personal injury lawyer will draft the necessary documents and file them with the court. Then they can send the insurance company a copy of the documents as notice of the impending personal injury lawsuit.
Once the insurance company receives notice, it must file a response with the court. After filing the response, the lawsuit proceeds to the discovery phase.
During the discovery phase, both the plaintiff and the defendant have the opportunity to uncover evidence and ask each other to produce documents relevant to the case in anticipation of trial.
Discovery includes the following:
- Requests for production
- Requests for admission
Your attorney can use any of these tools to get the necessary information to help strengthen your case.
The discovery phase is often the most time-consuming portion of a personal injury lawsuit. After the discovery phase has ended, your lawyer will use the information they gathered to attempt to settle with the insurance company once again.
While every case differs, only about 3 to 4 percent of personal injury cases go to trial.
Insurance companies put up tough fights, but in the end, they often realize that settling outside the courtroom is better for everyone involved. Trial requires more time, energy, and money than settling, and insurance companies like to avoid the extra hassle whenever possible.
You can trust your personal injury lawyer will do whatever is necessary to get you the most favorable settlement, whether your case settles during negotiations or must go to trial.
What Happens After Your Case Is Settled?
Some steps after a settlement vary depending on your case. For the most part, you can expect the following to occur before you finally receive your settlement money.
Notify the Court
In a personal injury lawsuit, your attorney must notify the court if you settle outside the courtroom. Doing so informs the court that your case will not need a trial.
Sign the Necessary Documents
You will need to sign a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement provides the details of your settlement and serves as a contract between the parties.
Additionally, most agreements include releases that, once signed, prevent you from seeking additional compensation for this particular case in the future.
The opposing party will only process your settlement once you have signed the required documents.
The Insurance Company Processes Documentation and Writes Out a Check
Once you have signed your settlement agreement, the insurance company reviews the forms, and if everything is correct, they proceed to issue your settlement check. Insurance companies often make checks out in both your and your attorney’s names since your lawyer needs to deposit the check.
This step can take some time, as delays may prevent the insurance company from sending your settlement check.
Your Personal Injury Lawyer Receives Your Check and Deposits It
Once the insurance company cuts your settlement check, it doesn’t go to you directly. Instead, it goes straight to your attorney’s office.
Under California rules, attorneys must have separate trust accounts to deposit client funds. Lawyers only deposit the funds for a short period. It is a necessary step in the settlement process. From these accounts, lawyers can accomplish several tasks, including paying liens.
Depending on your case, you may have some liens, which are unpaid debts. If so, your attorney can pay those for you from the funds deposited into the trust account.
Your lawyer may pay debts in your personal injury cases to:
- Physicians or hospitals for medical bills
- Your health insurance company
- Medicaid or Medicare
Not every case has liens. If your case does, however, your lawyer will pay them immediately to avoid future penalties.
Your Personal Injury Attorney Takes their Fees
Aside from paying any liens your case may have, your lawyer takes the portion they are owed from the money deposited in the trust account.
The amount your attorney takes from your settlement depends on their fees and the expenses of your case.
Personal injury case expenses can include:
- Court fees
- Expert witness fees
- Court reporter fees
Your attorney can provide details regarding their fees and any expenses incurred during your case.
Understanding How a Personal Injury Lawyer Gets Paid
How attorneys charge for their services depends on their field of practice. Most personal injury attorneys use a contingency fee agreement.
Under a contingency fee, you pay no upfront costs. After you sign an agreement with your lawyer, they work on your case and pay for all case-related costs and expenses. Then, after your case settles, your attorney takes an agreed-upon percentage to cover their fees and any money they spent on your case.
Working under a contingency allows you to get the legal help you need without worrying about expensive attorney’s fees.
You Receive Your Settlement Check From Your Personal Injury Lawyer
Finally, after all of the previously mentioned steps have been accomplished, your attorney will issue a check with the remaining funds in your name.
The time between your attorney receiving the check from the insurance company and issuing your settlement check varies but can take several days. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding the timeline of receiving your settlement check, discuss them with your attorney.
Discuss Your Case With a Personal Injury Attorney
Getting a favorable settlement can have a substantial positive impact on your life after suffering an accident. Fortunately, a personal injury lawyer can help you obtain compensation for your losses.
After sustaining an injury, contact a personal injury attorney immediately to begin working on your case and getting on the road to recovery.