Personal Injury Settlements: How the Process Works

Auto Accident Lawyer

A personal injury lawsuit can typically find resolution through a trial or mediation. The typical approach is to seek a settlement through arbitration and avoid a long and expensive trial as most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency. Seeking settlements is also the fastest route to resolve a case. However, most plaintiffs do not understand the process after settling. Who gets paid, and how? Is there a waiting period? What needs to happen before you can cash a settlement check?

Release and Documentation

Unfortunately, when everyone agrees on a solution and an amount, it is only the beginning. The whole process can take 30 to 60 days, possibly more, because of the paperwork and the courts. Once agreeing to specific terms, your lawyer prepares a document stating the specifics of the agreement in writing. The defense must agree to those terms by signing the papers. If there are no objections, your attorney sends the documents to the court for a judge’s approval. However, sometimes deliberation continues for days while the attorneys attempt to iron out the finer details. When everything is in order, both the plaintiff and defendant sign the agreement with a notary present. You cannot change the deal after notarization.

Liens and Settlement Tasks

While the original settlement number may sound lovely, your lawyer adjusts the final award, accounting for liens and contingency fees. You will probably negotiate the contingency before trial and arbitration. However, a lien, medical or governmental, may change over negotiations and the trial. Therefore, it is necessary to present a clear financial picture to your lawyer before the mediation begins.

The Check

While possibly surprising, the names of you and your attorney may appear on the settlement check delivered to the law firm. Once received, your attorney will ask you to sign a Power of Attorney, allowing them to deposit the funds and cut a new check to you, less the contingency fee previously discussed.

Settlements are typically faster than trials, but they do still adhere to strict rules and procedures. Therefore, while two parties may come to an agreement quickly, the process may still take 1 to 2 months to complete. All of this highly depends on the personal injury case and the specifics of your claim. Therefore, before subjecting yourself to talks and negotiations, contact a personal injury attorney in your area, and discuss the merits of your case. They can often provide more insight into the process and expense of suing.

Source: Auto Accident Lawyer Deer Park, TX, John K. Zaid & Associates

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