What Happens After You Win Your Injury Claim?October 19, 2020
We know the sense of relief that our clients feel once a settlement is agreed on, whether it’s pre-trial or after going before a judge or jury. It means the nightmare of their accident is finally over, and they can really begin to put it behind them.
But what happens next? When does the insurance company write the check, and more importantly, how long until you get it in your hands? And how do you begin to start paying off all the expenses you’ve racked up in the meantime? This blog goes into the details.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out?
Processing a personal injury settlement is an involved process and may take up to six weeks (although usually shorter) to conclude. Why so long? There are several steps that must be completed before you can receive your check.
After an agreement on a settlement is reached, you will be required to first sign a release stating the total amount to be paid and absolving the defendant from further liability.
This is why having a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf is so important – if the insurance company’s initial offer is too low and you accept, you won’t be able to ask for more money later after signing the release.
The defendant’s insurance company will issue a check, typically made payable to you and your lawyer, and send the check to your lawyer.
Your lawyer will deposit the check into an escrow account. This is not a decision your lawyer is making on your behalf, it’s the law. Having the money in escrow is also only temporary until any liens on the settlement are paid.
Your lawyer will pay all liens you owe using the money in the escrow account – these are typically medical liens.
Because personal injury settlements often don’t conclude until after the victim is recovered and the final medical bill is paid (to accurately calculate how much compensation is needed), most accident victims will pay their medical bills initially through their own health insurance. You are required to report to your insurance when the treatment being billed is for injuries from an accident. The health insurance company will then issue a lien for the amount they paid the health care provider, since subrogation laws in Louisiana prevent injury victims from getting compensation from two sources for the same accident-related expenses (i.e., first from your own health insurance, and later from the at-fault party’s auto insurance once your settlement is awarded).
If you don’t have health insurance, you may have a lien with the healthcare provider itself.
Your lawyer will typically negotiate with the healthcare providers to try to reduce the lien amount you are required to pay.
Other types of liens on the settlement could include spousal or child support that the injury victim owes and couldn’t pay while unable to work due to their injuries.
Your lawyer will subtract their fees and court costs from the money in the escrow account.
Attorney fees vary, and can depend on the type of case and whether or not the case went to trial, but they usually range from 33%-40%. Your attorney’s fees reflect the time and work they put into your case. Refer to the contract you signed for the attorney fee percentage you agreed to pay.
Court costs are different from attorney fees. These include the amount charged by the hospital and police department for requesting copies of your medical records and police report, cost of postage, and if you go to trial, filing fees, paying expert witnesses, and so on. These are the responsibility of the person filing the personal injury claim, but your lawyer will typically pay these charges up front and take reimbursement out of the settlement.
Once all liens and fees have been subtracted, the injury victim will receive the remaining amount. This will include compensation for lost wages and pain and suffering.
Typically your lawyer will write you a check for the amount remaining in the escrow account, which can be picked up at the lawyer’s office or delivered by mail.
What to Do If Your Settlement is Delayed
Settlements can be delayed for a variety of reasons, including reasons as simple as the claims adjuster being out of office and not having signed or filed your release paperwork. Typically, delays are due to waiting on confirmation that all liens have been settled.
If your settlement is significantly delayed, talk to your lawyer. They may be able to issue a partial payment while continuing to negotiate your liens.
When You Need Compensation After an Accident, Contact Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers
At Dudley DeBosier, our personal injury attorneys know how important compensation is after an accident that leaves you seriously injured and in debt. That’s why we work hard to settle claims professionally, quickly, and for the maximum amount.