Most Settlements Finalize Within Six Weeks
Once the insurance company finally agrees to a personal injury settlement, most victims are eager to wrap up their case, receive their compensation, and start using that money to address their medical bills and other costs.
However, the settlement process isn’t as simple as the insurance company just dropping a check in the mail. While most personal injury settlements in Texas finalize within six weeks or less, the process to get there can be a bit complex. Fortunately, if you know what to expect, you’ll find this process a lot easier to navigate.
Keep reading to learn more about the various steps in the personal injury settlement process.
Step 1: Signing Releases and Other Documents
Once you reach a settlement with the insurance company, the lawyers typically draft a series of release forms. Depending on your circumstances, your release forms might be relatively simple, or they might contain detailed terms and conditions that your attorney will have to read over very carefully.
Sometimes, parties negotiate back and forth about the terms of the settlement. After these negotiations finish and the release forms reach their final state, you will have to review and sign them before your settlement can proceed.
Step 2: The Insurance Company Processes Your Release and Cuts a Check
Once the insurance company receives your signed release forms, it should process them and issue a settlement check. Usually, they’ll make this check payable to both you and your attorney and then send it to your attorney.
While this process should run smoothly, insurance companies sometimes delay payment for various reasons, including flat-out clerical errors. If you experience prolonged delays while waiting for your settlement check, you should contact your lawyer for assistance.
“If you experience prolonged delays while waiting for your settlement check, you should contact your lawyer for assistance.”
Step 3: Your Lawyer Deposits the Insurance Check in an Escrow Account and Pays Your Liens
Upon receipt, your attorney will deposit the insurance check into a special trust or escrow account. This is only temporary, and it’s not your attorney’s decision — it’s a mandatory part of the settlement process under State Bar of Texas rules. Once the settlement check clears, your lawyer will distribute your settlement money.
Usually, your lawyer will have to use some of your settlement money to settle various unpaid debts (also called liens). For example, your lawyer might have to send portions of your settlement money to:
- Medical providers with unpaid bills
- Your health insurance company, if they paid for accident-related medical treatment
- Texas Child Support Division, if you have unpaid child support
- Texas Medicaid, if it covered accident-related medical care
- Medicare, if it covered accident-related medical care or you meet the criteria for a Medicare Set-Aside
It’s important to resolve these liens right away with your settlement funds. If you ignore liens from medical providers, government agencies, or insurance companies, you might face serious penalties. If you have questions about any liens and how they relate to your personal injury claim, you should schedule an appointment with your lawyer to discuss them.
Step 4: Your Attorney Will Deduct Legal Fees and Costs
After your lawyer pays any liens, they’ll deduct legal fees and costs from your settlement. Your lawyer’s fees will amount to a certain percentage of your settlement as set forth in the attorney-client contract signed by you at the beginning of your case.
Meanwhile, your legal costs and expenses will depend on lots of factors that are unique to your case. The total will include costs associated with:
- Gathering medical records and other medical evidence
- Paying expert witness fees
- Paying deposition and court reporting costs
You should always get an itemized statement detailing your legal costs. And, if you have any concerns about your costs, make sure you discuss them with your personal injury lawyer.
“You should always get an itemized statement detailing your legal costs. And, if you have any concerns about your costs, make sure you discuss them with your personal injury lawyer.”
Once all of your liens and fees are deducted, you should receive the remainder of your settlement money.
What Happens if My Settlement Gets Seriously Delayed?
As we mentioned before, most injured victims receive their settlement funds within about six weeks from the end of negotiations. However, additional delays can happen.
If your settlement gets delayed extensively and you’re wondering what’s going on, you should contact your personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer should be able to at least explain the delay and might even be able to resolve it. And, he or she might be able to give you options that could expedite your payment. For example, your lawyer might agree to issue a partial settlement payment, retaining a portion of the settlement proceeds while he or she negotiates your liens.
A Word About Structured Settlement Payments
On rare occasions, a personal injury claim gets paid through a structured settlement, which is an arrangement that involves the victim receiving portions of their settlement over time. Typically, these structured settlements occur when the victim is a minor or has a catastrophic injury claim that involves ongoing, expensive medical and nursing care.
Usually, a structured settlement involves the insurance company funding an annuity for the victim. An annuity is a type of insurance contract that pays out guaranteed amounts on a fixed, regular schedule. For example, if you received a structured settlement, your annuity might pay you a portion of your settlement every month, every year, or every few years.
Structured settlements might sound sensible, but they can involve a level of risk for the victim. Certain annuities are only payable during your lifetime, which means that once you die, all annuity payments stop. If you’re concerned about this happening, you and your lawyer should carefully review and discuss the terms of your proposed structured settlement.
Crosley Law Firm: We Fight for Personal Injury Victims in Texas
Settling an auto accident claim or other personal injury claim is a complicated process. Without experienced legal representation, you might undervalue your personal injury case, forfeit important rights, and experience frustrating delays.
At Crosley Law Firm, we pride ourselves on our attention to detail and our aggressive, effective approach to representing injured victims. If you have questions about any aspect of a personal injury settlement, complete our online contact form or call us at 210-LAW-3000.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.