Reaching a legal settlement for a personal injury claim typically happens during one of two phases of the litigation process. Discovery is the phase of the litigation process when the legal counsels for both parties exchange information. The information exchanged can lead to the start of negotiations to reach a legal settlement. During the trial phase of the litigation process, the judge hearing a case might ask both lawyers to resolve their differences by negotiating a settlement.
Regardless of when your personal injury lawyer negotiates a settlement, you follow a series of steps that eventually ends with you receiving compensation for your injuries.
Agree to a Settlement Value
The major sticking point of the settlement process involves both parties agreeing to a settlement value. Negotiations can take weeks to unfold and sometimes they end up stalling or breaking down. The back and forth between your Morgan & Morgan attorney and the legal counsel representing the other party can include several counteroffers. The key to avoiding lengthy negotiations is for your legal counsel to present a reasonable value for a settlement, as well as the other party’s attorney presenting a reasonable counteroffer.
If your personal injury lawyer feels the negotiations are going nowhere, your legal counsel might decide to file a civil lawsuit to apply pressure on the other party’s legal representation.
Agree to the Type of Settlement
Now that the most difficult phase of the settlement check process has ended, the next step involves both sides agreeing to the type of check settlement. You have two options for choosing the type of settlement check: Lump-sum or structured.
You receive the entire value of a settlement when you opt for a lump-sum payment. You get all your money at one time, which prevents inflation from eroding the value of your settlement. However, the other party might not have the money to afford a lump-sum payment, which means you should choose a structured settlement.
A structured settlement represents a series of payments that typically come on a monthly basis. This method of settlement allows you to budget your income to correlate with monthly expenses. The downside to a structured settlement is your money might lose some of its value because of inflation.
The personal injury attorney at Morgan & Morgan that handles your case can help you decide which type of settlement works best for your financial status.
Terms of the Settlement Arrangement
Next in the series of steps for receiving your settlement check is to agree to the terms of the settlement. Both lawyers establish the rights and legal obligations for each party, as well as verify the legal issues that are settled because of the agreement. Your personal injury lawyer might request provisions to protect sensitive or confidential information. Most importantly, both sides must agree on how the other party should make payments.
Read, Sign, and Submit Settlement Documents
One of the reasons an insurance company agrees to a settlement is to be released from future liabilities concerning the same claim. You and your personal injury attorney read, sign, and submit the release form. Other legal documents include the terms of the settlement, as well as the type of settlement payment or payments you should receive. The personal injury attorney from Morgan & Morgan that represents you will ask you to sign all the settlement documents in front of a notary public.
Your Legal Counsel Receives Your Settlement Check
Although the settlement check is addressed to you, your personal injury attorney receives the check for two reasons. First, your legal counsel must settle any outstanding liens. The most common type of lien is a medical lien, which is a claim against the compensation you received from the settlement. Second, your legal counsel takes out legal fees and court costs from the settlement check. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they get paid when you receive your settlement check.
Receiving the Balance of Your Settlement Check
If you decide to receive a lump-sum settlement, you receive the balance of your settlement with one large check. A structured settlement means you receive a series of checks that follow a consistent schedule. You can choose to have your check or checks mailed to the address you supplied your personal injury lawyer. Another option is to have your legal counsel direct deposit your settlement check or checks. Cashing your settlement check or checks because you do not have a bank account is the third option, but you must pay check-cashing fees that can substantially reduce the value of your settlement.