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Process for Receiving My Personal Injury Settlement Check
Once a personal injury case is finally settled, you are entitled to receive your money in a reasonable timeframe. Knowing the stages of the Alpharetta personal injury settlement check process can help you track your check and understand what to do when it doesn’t show up.
Receiving your settlement check could take a month or longer. However, there can be factors that speed up or delay your check. We understand that you need your check as soon as possible to settle outstanding bills and handle other financial commitments. We could help you track down your money and ensure that there are no unreasonable delays. If your check seems indefinitely stuck in the system, causing frustration, get in touch with us now.
What Is a Settlement?
A personal injury case generally starts with the wronged individual’s complaint and demand letter. The demand letter outlines the facts of the personal injury case and a proposed settlement amount. The defendant usually responds by either meeting the demand and settlement amount, making a counteroffer, or refusing to settle.
Negotiations typically take place before an agreement can be reached between the parties. The case will only settle once all parties agree on an amount for damages. If negotiations fail, the wronged individual can file a lawsuit. Settlements can be reached at any time right up until trial. Once a settlement is agreed upon, the legal dispute is officially resolved. The plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit) agrees to release the legal claim and drop the lawsuit in return for receiving compensation.
Most personal injury cases are settled outside of the courtroom, according to the
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). An out-of-court settlement can be advantageous to both parties as it is generally a faster and less costly process than going all the way to trial.
Steps in the Personal Injury Settlement Check Process in Alpharetta
Understanding the Alpharetta personal injury settlement check process is crucial if you are waiting for your settlement check in the city. A check will not be issued instantly, and the process usually goes through several steps before you can hold the check in your hands. Since some variables are involved, you might have to follow up with your attorney or the relevant insurance company. While a check can take some weeks to get to you, you might want to investigate if a month has passed and there is no sign of your check.
1. Signing the Release Document
The first step in getting your settlement check, arguably the most important, is completing the “order of settlement” paperwork. These vital documents have to be completed by both parties. The most important document is the release form which must be signed before the insurance company will issue your settlement check. The form acknowledges that you accept the settlement and “release” the defendant from all further legal claims.
Consult with Your Attorney
Release documents, much like other official legal documents, are full of legal jargon. However, it is crucially important that you understand the terms and conditions of the release. The agreement is binding, and once signed, you are generally unable to pursue any further compensation.
If your lawyer disagrees with any content or the terms of the release document, there may be further negotiations causing a potential delay in the settlement check process. That being said, patience can pay off as your attorney is protecting your rights and working hard for the best possible outcome of your case. Once your attorney is satisfied with the document, and you have signed it, they will forward the release form to the at-fault party’s insurance company.
2. The Insurance Company Processes and Issues the Check
Once the insurance has received all required documents and the release form is free of mistakes and has been properly signed, the insurance company has an obligation to process your check within a reasonable timeframe. Usually, processing and mailing a settlement check should not take more than three weeks or thereabouts. However, there can be several reasons why your check could get stuck at this stage of the process, such as:
- The release form was signed incorrectly
- Your check got lost in the mail
- The insurance employees processing checks are off sick or on vacation
- The claim involves a minor or the estate of a deceased individual
If you are working with a personal injury attorney in Alpharetta, the insurer will send the check to your attorney directly. If your attorney has not received a check within two or three weeks, they should follow up with the insurance company and determine why the check is delayed.
If You Are Not Working with an Attorney
If you represented yourself and are not working with an attorney, the insurance company will send the settlement check to you directly. Therefore, if you have not received your check within a reasonable amount of time, you will need to call the insurance company to find out more.
3. Your Attorney Receives the Check
Once your attorney has received the settlement check, it could still take some time before you can lay hands on your money. First of all, your lawyer will deposit the check into an escrow account until the bank clears it. Then, they will take care of your debts and liens, which can include:
- Paying off any unpaid medical bills
- Reimbursing private health insurance if applicable
- Reimbursing Medicare or Medicaid
- Paying any past due child support
At this stage, your attorney will typically work hard to try and get the best deal for you, so they may be taking some time to negotiate with your health providers or health insurance to ensure you are not paying more than you have to. This can be one reason why your settlement check could be slightly delayed.
It is important to remember that you must pay your liens and debts in connection with your personal injury, even if you did not work with an attorney. Once you receive a settlement check, ensure to contact your lienholders promptly to arrange payment. Ignoring your liens could lead to legal consequences and collection action against you.
4. Deducting Legal Fees and Expenses
Once your attorney paid off your liens, they will deduct their fees from the settlement amount. Depending on your specific case, expenses deducted from your check can include:
- Court filing expenses
- Expert witness fees
- Accident investigation or reconstruction costs
- Mailing and copying costs
- Charges for obtaining official documents
- Deposition costs such as transcription expenses
The attorney will then go ahead and send a check for the remaining amount to your address.
5. Receiving Your Settlement Check
Finally, the day has come that you can hold your check in your hands and begin using the funds. Now, what do you do? You can go ahead and deposit your settlement check with your bank in Alpharetta just as you would deposit any other type of check. Be prepared that the bank teller might ask questions or need authorization from management, especially if the amount is large.
If you have just gone through a stressful lawsuit or out-of-court settlement process in Alpharetta, you should not struggle to receive your due. If you have been waiting for your check forever, an insurance company is dragging its heels, or you do not know why your check is held up, we can help. Our experienced personal injury attorneys could speed up the Alpharetta personal injury settlement check process.
Morgan & Morgan
What Is a Release Form?
A release form must be signed before you can receive your settlement money. Release forms typically contain the following information:
- Your name
- The name of the defendant
- The date when your injury occurred
- The location of your accident or injury
- The settlement amount
It is vitally important that you understand the release form before signing. Once you have signed the document, you agreed to drop all legal claims. You may wish to consult an attorney before signing a release.
Why Is My Check Delayed?
While getting a check after an out-of-court settlement is never instant, you should receive your funds within a reasonable amount of time. Reasons for delays can include the paperwork not being completed correctly or internal hold-ups at the insurance company responsible for issuing the check. In some cases, your check got stuck at the attorney’s office, for example, if your attorney was on vacation when your check arrived.
The best course of action is contacting your attorney or the relevant insurance company if your check is delayed and you want to know why. It is important to note that the process of recovering a settlement check does take some time and can take a month or up to six weeks in some cases. However, if an insurer is withholding your settlement check unreasonably, you should contact an attorney. You could also file a complaint with the Georgia Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire.
How Do I Track My Settlement Check in Alpharetta?
The easiest option for tracking your settlement check is asking your attorney to determine at which stage of the Alpharetta personal injury settlement check process you are. Your attorney will receive the check before you do, and they can follow up on any delays by contacting the at-fault party’s insurance company.
If you are not represented by a personal injury attorney in Alpharetta, you will have to investigate. Start by contacting the insurance company and demanding some answers. If you have been in touch with the insurer several times and are not getting any help, consider seeking legal advice to determine your next best steps. An attorney from our firm could help you track and receive your check, preventing any further unreasonable delays.
How Do I Cash a Settlement Check?
The easiest way to cash your check is doing so at your own bank. However, when cashing large checks, banks typically place a hold on some or all of the funds, which means you may not be able to get the amount right away. Most banks release funds within seven days.
You could also potentially cash your check at the bank that issued it. The issuing bank may not place a hold on the funds but will most likely charge a fee. If you do not have a bank account or are looking to cash your check instantly, you could do so at a check-cashing store or grocery store for a potentially considerable fee.
How Do I Pay for the Medical Bills While Waiting for My Check?
Unfortunately, you will be responsible for your medical bills in the first instance, even if someone else is at fault for causing your injury. However, there are some solutions that could tide you over until the settlement check arrives:
- Your private health insurance should pay for medical bills under your policy
- Try to negotiate deferred payments with your medical providers
- Workers’ compensation could pay for medical bills if you were injured at work
It is important to note that if an insurer or government agency such as Medicaid and Medicare paid for your initial medical costs, they have the right to be reimbursed from your settlement proceeds.
Morgan & Morgan Can Be Here for You
We understand that you are eager to receive what you deserve and don’t want to wait any longer for your settlement check than you have to. It is simply unfair that injured individuals cannot move forward with their lives when checks are unreasonably delayed by insurance companies.
Having an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner can be the best way to speed up the Alpharetta personal injury settlement check process. Morgan & Morgan’s dedicated personal injury attorneys do not walk away from you once your case is won or your settlement agreement has been signed. We can protect your rights until the moment you receive your due. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.