Many people believe that once a settlement is reached in a car accident case that they immediately receive the settlement check in full. However, this is rarely, if ever, how these matters are handled. As a legal process, some specific steps and rules need to be followed before any money actually reaches your bank account. Therefore, to understand the process entirely, you must learn about the following five steps.
1. Documents and Release Forms
Before any money changes hands, both parties must sign and complete the paperwork for the Order of Settlement, which can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days, depending on the specifics of the case. Also, once this document is completed, the at-fault party and their attorney will draft a release. This document will outline the conditions and terms of the agreement and stipulate that no further legal action can be taken in the matter. Once you sign the document, the settlement can move to the next step.
2. Insurance Company Check
After signing the release, it is delivered to the at-fault parties insurer. Once they receive the release, they are under a legal obligation to write the check. Pending any internal delays, the insurance company will make a check out payable to you and your attorney.
3. Deposit and Liens
Once your attorney receives the check, they will place it in an escrow account. The bank will clear the check and then release the funds. However, you do not automatically gain access to the money. First, your attorney must make good on any outstanding liens for medical bills or other pending issues. After these debts are covered, the remainder of the money will be disbursed, but the full amount does not go to you.
4. Legal Fees and Other Costs
Before you can receive your portion of the funds, your attorney will take their cut. However, they will likely meet with you to go over their fees and other line item costs. It is at this time that your attorney will take their contingency fee as well as cover any other expenses that were previously discussed.
5. Your Check
After all fees have been paid, your attorney will make a check for the remainder of the funds, which is your portion of the settlement. For many people, the final payout can seem disheartening, especially after paying medical expenses and 33% contingency fees. However, it is essential to consider that if you wouldn’t have hired a lawyer, then you would be on your own financially.
Settlement offers might appear large, but when the liens and fees are removed, it can seem like it is barely enough. Therefore, if you were in an accident, hire a personal injury lawyer in Milwaukee, WI and get the settlement you deserve.
Thanks to Hickey & Turim, SC for their insight into personal injury claims and the steps of the settlement check process.