After months or perhaps even years of battling out a personal injury case, you finally hold your settlement check in your hands. Settlements for a personal injury can involve large amounts, which might leave you wondering how to cash in your personal injury settlement check when it arrives. However, you have several options and could cash your check at your bank, a grocery store, or a check-cashing store.
Having an experienced personal injury attorney by your side, negotiating a fair settlement can be crucial. Once victims sign settlement papers, they are generally barred from further recovery even if their damages turn out higher than expected.
Morgan & Morgan doesn’t want you to leave money on the table that you might need for your injury in the future. Our committed attorneys work tirelessly to help the injured recover what they need and deserve. Contact us now for a free case review.
Who Is Entitled to a Settlement Check?
If you got injured in an accident or incident that was the responsibility of another individual, business, or another party, they generally have to make you “whole” again. Therefore, if you lost wages, incurred medical bills, suffered pain, or had other damages, the responsible party or their insurance company should compensate you. Injured individuals can file a personal injury lawsuit to seek justice and compensation.
Even if you file a lawsuit, your case will not necessarily go through the court system and end in a trial. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), most personal injury claims are resolved with an out-of-court settlement and before trial. Once an injured individual accepts a settlement offer from the responsible party, they are due to receive their settlement check in a reasonable timeframe.
If you suffered a personal injury in a car accident, slip and fall, workplace accident, or in another situation, you could receive a settlement check from the at-fault party. Make sure to seek medical advice for your injury as soon as possible and contact a personal injury lawyer to determine whether you have a case.
Cashing in Your Settlement Check With Your Bank
You can cash in your personal injury settlement check at your own bank. However, you may not be able to access the full amount immediately, especially if you received a large settlement check. Depending on your average balance and bank policy, your bank can place a hold on the funds, lasting for up to seven days or even longer. Generally, a bank can hold funds:
- For up to two business days for checks against an account at the same institution
- For up to five additional days for other banks (totaling seven days)
- For longer periods if reasonable
If you have a bank balance greater or equal to the check amount, the bank might cash your check immediately.
The Process of Cashing Your Check
The bank may ask you to bring two forms of ID when you are cashing a large check. The teller may also call the issuing bank to verify the check’s legitimacy and ask you some questions about the source of the check. This is a normal bank procedure and nothing to worry about. You should then receive your cash. Some banks charge a check cashing fee of around $5-$10.
Cashing in Your Check With the Issuing Bank
Cashing your check with the issuing institution can be a good idea as there is usually a shorter hold on the funds. Much like your own bank, the issuing bank typically requires two forms of ID, such as a passport and driver’s license. There could be a flat fee for cashing the check, or the bank might charge a percentage of the check amount. Some banks offer check cashing for free, so be sure to shop around for the best deal.
Cashing a Check Without a Bank Account
If you do not have a bank account or prefer to get your money immediately, you could have several options. Grocery stores, convenience stores, or check-cashing places could all cash in your check. However, many grocery or convenience stores only cash in checks of up to $5,000.
Check-cashing and payday loan stores can be a good option for those who do not possess a bank account or where the check is too large to be cashed in at a retailer. Photo ID will be required. Check-cashing stores can charge considerable fees, often based on a percentage of the amount cashed in. The advantage of using a check-cashing store is leaving with your cash in hand on the same day, while at a traditional bank, you may have to wait for more than a week.
How Long Does it Take to Get My Check?
The final wait for your settlement check can be agonizing. Medical bills and living expenses are waiting to be paid. It is understandable that you want to move on with your life sooner rather than later and put a stressful time behind you.
While most personal injury checks are distributed within a month or so, the process can take longer or shorter as all personal injury cases are unique. When a government agency such as Medicare or Medicaid pays for some of your healthcare bills and needs to be reimbursed, it can take several months to get your check. Occasionally, a settlement check can get “stuck” in the system or is simply lost in the mail.
However, you and your attorney could help speed things along. Make sure to complete all required paperwork promptly and contact the responsible insurance company if a check seems unreasonably delayed.
Steps Before You Can Receive the Settlement Check
Your settlement check will go through an entire process before it arrives at your doorstep.
1. The Release
Once all parties agree to a settlement, you will sign a release form that “releases” the defendant from any further legal claims regarding your injury. After you have signed the document, it will be forwarded to the relevant insurance company, and the first step in the process is completed.
2. The Insurer Issues the Settlement Check
When the insurance company has received all the required paperwork, including the signed release form, they must process, issue, and mail your check on time. However, this is where checks can get held up. Reasons for a check getting stuck at the insurance company can include incorrectly signed paperwork, employees off sick or on vacation, and others.
3. Your Attorney Deposits the Check
After your attorney has received the check, they will deposit it into an escrow or trust account until it clears. This can add more than a week to the timeframe for receiving your check since clearing can take up to seven business days.
4. Your Creditors and Lienholders Get Paid
Once your check clears, your attorney will start negotiating your liens and paying off what you owe. Payments will go towards medical bills, reimbursing your health insurance, or reimbursing Medicaid/Medicare. If you owe any past due child support, a portion of your settlement will be used to catch up on payments. While this process can take some time, it is vital that all your lienholders get paid.
5. Deducting Legal Fees From the Settlement
The final step before you can receive the check is deducting your lawyer’s fee and the amount spent on any legal expenses such as court filing fees and others. The attorney will then mail your check with the remaining settlement amount.