If you settle a personal injury lawsuit or are awarded damages by a court, it may take weeks or even months before you receive the settlement funds. If the other party chooses to appeal a court decision, the disbursement of funds could be delayed much longer. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side can help you get the settlement money you are owed as soon as possible.
What Happens When a Personal Injury Lawsuit Is Settled?
If you and the other party have agreed on a settlement before your personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, the lawyers representing both parties will inform the court that the case has been settled. The court then issues an order of settlement requiring both parties to complete the signing of the settlement papers within 30 or 60 days, according to the jurisdiction’s particular rules. The Release is the most critical of the settlement papers to be signed.
The Release outlines the settlement terms and is drafted by the defense attorney. Although many lawyers choose to pack this document with esoteric legal jargon that can stretch it out to up to 15 pages, it doesn’t have to be that long. After drafting the Release, the defense attorney will send it to the other party’s lawyer to be approved.
While the Release can be very forthright, it still may contain language that some find disagreeable. Your lawyer should read through the Release with great care to ensure that all the terms laid out are acceptable. Lawyers have been known to dispute certain terms outlined, dragging out negotiations for several days in order to reach the final terms. If an agreement cannot be negotiated between the lawyers, a judge must render a final decision, which can slow down the process.
When your lawyer has sent you an acceptable version of the Release, you must sign it in the presence of a notary public. You shouldn’t sign it before reading it thoroughly and resolving any questions you may have with your lawyer. The terms of the Release are considered final once you have returned a signed copy to the defendant’s lawyer.
Final Steps Before Settlement Disbursement
The final settlement agreement usually stipulates that the settlement must be paid within a certain time frame, typically between 20 and 30 days. In addition, the settlement terms typically grant the party collecting payment the right to add interest to the unpaid amount if payment isn’t made within the specified time period.
Once the defendant’s insurance company processes the signed releases, it will cut a check for the settlement payment made out to you and your lawyer, which is then sent to your lawyer. The law in New York State requires that the check be deposited into and remain in your lawyer’s escrow account until it clears. Before your portion of the settlement payment can be disbursed, your lawyer must pay any existing liens stemming from an insurance provider’s or government agency’s covering the costs of medical treatment necessitated by the accident.
Your lawyer will also deduct his or her legal fees and any costs incurred to help argue your case, including for fees paid to expert witnesses, deposition and court reporting expenses, and expenses related to collecting medical evidence to support your case.
Payment Timeframe for Cases Decided in Court
When your claim goes to court and receives a judgment, the timeframe for collecting payment will differ depending on laws and court rules in the state where it was filed and heard. A defendant is almost certain to appeal a ruling against him, and under the rules of most courts, the losing side typically has between 10 and 15 days to file a motion for a new trial. Courts will generally rule on such a motion within a few weeks. Appeals can take up to a year or more after the initial trial, and you would collect compensation for your claim only if the appellate court decision goes your way.
A Skilled Lawyer Can Minimize Settlement Frustration
Because of how confusing it can be to navigate the settlement of a personal injury claim, an experienced personal injury lawyer who understands the intricate workings of the system can help minimize the stress involved.
Don’t shortchange yourself on the compensation you deserve after being injured in a car crash, slip and fall, or other accident. The personal injury lawyers at KGG Law have been helping clients in the New York metropolitan area, including Rockland and Bergen Counties, successfully settle personal injury lawsuits for many years. Contact us for a free consultation.