Jan 22, 2021
After a serious accident that results in significant injuries and, in many cases, prolonged recovery time, it’s understandable for victims to want to know when they can expect to receive a settlement check for financial losses. Although the time required for a settlement negotiation process to be finalized can vary considerably from case-to-case, once a settlement is reached a victim can generally expect to receive a settlement check in approximately six weeks. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule, and delays can occur. Let’s take a look at the standard process for receiving a personal injury settlement check, the steps involved from start to finish, and also look at average settlements for personal injury cases.
In civil lawsuits, a settlement is an alternative to pursuing trial litigation. Generally, a settlement occurs when the defendant agrees to some or all of the plaintiff’s claims rather than proceeding to fight the matter in a court of law. In almost all cases, a settlement requires the defendant to pay the plaintiff monetary compensation – whether for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, psychological trauma, etc. Agreeing to a settlement is commonly referred to as settling out of court, and said settlement effectively ends the matter of litigation. Agreeing to a settlement is an advantageous option for both parties in many cases. By settling out of court, defendants can avoid exorbitant costs of litigation, which can drag on for an extended period of time depending on the nature of the case. A settlement may be reached before a trial, or during its early stages. In some cases, settlements are reached before a lawsuit is ever filed.
Personal injury settlement checks can be issued for various types of cases, including car accidents, wrongful death claims, slip and falls, product liability or defect claims, premises liability claims, medical malpractice, TBI (traumatic brain injury) or spinal cord injuries, and more. When a victim is injured in an accident and suffers expenses from medical care, lost wages or earning capacity, reduced quality of life, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more, financial compensation via a civil lawsuit settlement is a means of helping the injured party recovery and live a productive life following an unfortunate accident.
The process of obtaining a settlement check includes the following steps:
1- Signing a release: In order for the defendant’s insurance company (or defendant alone) to issue a settlement check, you will have to sign a release form stating that no further legal action will be taken to pursue additional damages for the incident in question. By signing the release, you effectively protect the liable party from being sued in the future for the same injury or accident.
2- Processing the release: After you’ve signed the release, the insurance company processes the document and then issues a settlement check. In most cases, the settlement check is sent to your personal injury attorney, and made payable in both of your names.
3- Depositing the check: Once the check is received, your attorney will deposit it into a special trust or escrow account. As soon as the check clears, your personal injury attorney will distribute the settlement money. However, it should be noted that in some cases your attorney might need to put a portion of the settlement money towards any outstanding debts or liens. Be sure to always discuss with your attorney in advance whether or not any unpaid debts or liens exist in your particular case, so you’re prepared accordingly.
4- Deducting legal fees and paying you directly: Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means you pay nothing up front, and instead a portion of the final settlement award is deducted and used to pay the lawyer fees. Once your attorney pays off any remaining liens and subtracts legal costs (e.g. hours devoted to your case, court reporting costs, expert witness fees, private investigator fees, etc.), you will receive your settlement money. The contingency fee an attorney charges can vary depending on which attorney you choose to represent you. That’s why it’s important to always discuss fees and an estimated percentage deduction of your final settlement amount in advance. If you find two attorneys with similar experience and past success rates, but one charges a 45% contingency fee while the other charges 33%, it’s in your best interest to confirm those details ahead of time before committing to an attorney.
Delays, while not a common occurrence, can happen occasionally in personal injury settlements. In such cases, it’s helpful to know what to expect. If a defendant is not represented by an insurance company, it’s possible that he or she may have their own release form that needs to be agreed upon by all parties. In such cases, your attorneys, as well as the legal representation for the defendant, will have to review the release and agree unanimously on the terms. This may add additional time to your settlement check being received, but in most cases the situation can be resolved without issue and in a relatively short period of time. Wrongful death cases and other cases involving estates are two types of claims that tend to take a bit longer and require additional preparation.
Maintaining regular communication with your attorney and asking questions will help ensure you are kept apprised of timelines and any potential setbacks to receiving your personal injury settlement check.
Pain and suffering is an abstract term that refers to physical or emotional distress that a plaintiff may suffer following an accident. Pain and suffering can come in many forms, and quantifying that sort of hardship can be difficult, and often left up to interpretation (and therefore vary greatly on a case-by-case basis). While physical pain is typically straightforward (broken bones, TBI, fractures, spinal cord injuries, etc.), suffering is much more subjective, as it frequently involves post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), grief, fear, trouble sleeping, depression, and even loss of enjoyment in life.
Given the difficulty in quantifying pain and suffering, insurance companies have come up with two main systems for calculating damages that are commonly used. Those systems include the multiplier method and the per diem method.
The pain and suffering multiplier method, which is most commonly used by insurance companies, involves adding all “special damages” and then multiplying that figure by a certain number (typically between 1.5 and 5, with 3 being most common). Special damages can include any easily calculable economic losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
How the multiplier number is determined typically depends on the severity of the accident or any catastrophic injuries that may have resulted. As an example, if an individual was involved in a serious car accident that left him with catastrophic injuries, a reduced quality of life, and necessary medical care for the remainder of his life, the multiplier used to calculate pain and suffering in his particular case would likely be on the higher side of the scale (i.e. 4 or 5). Conversely, if you were involved in a minor accident and suffered a sprained knee, the multiplier used would likely be on the lower side (i.e. 1 or 2). However, it should be noted that this is certainly not an exact science, and insurance adjusters can make decisions that do not always follow logic (but almost always are focused on the goal of reducing an insurance company’s claim to be as low as possible).
That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced Dordulian Law Group attorney fighting on your behalf to ensure you are not taken advantage of by these massive insurance companies whose singular goal is to maximize profits and minimize payouts for injured victims.
Medical liens refer to a third party’s legal right to appropriate a portion or the entirety of the settlement or proceeds from your personal injury case. Said third party may file a request for a lien during the lawsuit, and a judge will ultimately decide whether to approve or deny the request. If a judge were to approve a lien, the person or entity who owns that lien would be paid from your total settlement amount before you receive any financial compensation. Again, this is just another example of why having an experienced and dedicated DLG lawyer fighting on your behalf can give you the advantage necessary to prevail, and help ensure another party does not wrongly take a portion of your settlement. Once a lien is approved by a judge, there is virtually nothing you or your attorney can do to reverse the decision, and the debt must be legally paid in full.
Personal injury settlements can vary greatly depending on the facts of the case and the severity of the injuries sustained by the victim. However, in most cases the general scale for personal injury settlements is between $3,000 and $75,000. The ultimate settlement you receives is heavily contingent on the skill, experience, dedication, and previous success record of your personal injury attorney. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that a significant number of personal injury cases settle for much more than the average figure quoted above.
When selecting a personal injury attorney to represent your case, it is recommended that you inquire as to what sort of settlements or verdicts he or she has been able to successfully obtain in the past. This will help give you a sense of what you can expect to receive for your specific case.
Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.
According to the IRS, if you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness and did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury or sickness in prior years, the full amount of the settlement is non-taxable. However, the IRS recommends that you do not list the settlement proceeds as part of your income.
Most attorney-client relationships are built on respect and an understanding that both individuals are working together to achieve the same goal – a successful case outcome leading to a maximum financial damages award.
However, occasionally attorneys have been known to betray the trust of their clients, sometimes going to extreme lengths to delay payments that are rightfully owed to clients, or even embezzling or using those very funds to furnish a lavish lifestyle.
One such example involves high-profile California attorney, Thomas Girardi, a founding member of the mega-firm Girardi Keese. It has recently come to light that Mr. Girardi has allegedly been embezzling the settlement funds owed to his clients (such as the families of the victims of the tragic 2018 Lion Air crash that killed 189 people). Since the scandal broke and made international headlines, the Girardi Keese firm has essentially shuttered, leaving hundreds of clients seeking answers, new representation, as well as financial restitution.
Take a look at our recent blog that provides an overview on what former Girardi Keese clients can do now that the firm is no longer operational, and what legal recourse they have against Mr. Girardi, his firm, and any firm employees who may have aided and abetted such nefarious actions.
If you are a former Girardi Keese client and would like to discuss your options with a reputable attorney who has maintained a sterling reputation since his days in the Deputy District Attorney’s Office, contact Samuel Dordulian today via our contact page or by phone. We’re here to answer any questions you may have 24/7, and help you recover the financial compensation you deserve.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.