A common topic when you have settled your personal injury case is the time it takes before you see your share. What gives you ask? Did my attorney run off with the settlement? There is no way it should take this long as I already signed the deal.
Long story short is it just takes time. This is why. First up, a release confirming the settlement amount needs to be signed by you. Depending on the size of the case the release language might go back and forth with the attorneys and insurance several times in order to protect your rights. This alone could take a couple of weeks. Next, once the release is signed and before the insurance will release the funds, any liens will need to be resolved.
Liens? The hospital you visited or your health insurance, potentially worker’s compensation or state child support agencies, etc. might be making a claim for money from the settlement. Your attorney has a duty to resolve them and notify the insurance company of how this will all be distributed out before they will even pay one cent.
Ok, say all that is done what’s next? Insurance companies work at their own pace and will not put the check in the mail until they are satisfied that they will not get in trouble for paying the amount your attorney says to pay to the parties with those liens out of the settlement.
Finally, after the money is received your lawyer must deposit the settlement money into what’s called a trust account or escrow account and wait for the money to clear before being able to pay anyone on this case.
Not as simple as it seems right? So as you can see, this can take some time and it is not unheard of for it to take up to a month or two or more from the date of your settlement to when you receive your settlement check.
Best way to handle this is at the time of agreeing to settle to speak with your lawyer and go over expectations for the steps needed before you see your share. Unfortunately, no step can be skipped in this process as it could create legal problems if not followed to the letter for both yourself and your attorney. Rest assured most good attorneys will get you your share as quickly as possible.