The truth is that you don’t walk out of a settlement meeting with a check in-hand. You also won’t get one in the mail next week. The process of receiving a settlement check is a bureaucratic one. After all, it’s part of a legally binding agreement.
Are you wondering, “Where’s my settlement check?” Here’s what you need to know.
Once you and your attorney accept a settlement, it opens up a considerable amount of legal work. You don’t get your settlement check until all that paperwork is done.
The at-fault party’s attorney must prepare an Order of Settlement, which outlines the terms and conditions associated with your settlement check. These documents usually prevent you from pursuing additional damages, but they are highly customizable.
You and your attorney need to review the agreement and either accept the terms or negotiate them. In the case when the conditions are unacceptable for one party, both attorneys may need to go back to a judge to mitigate.
In most cases, the paperwork needs to be complete within 30 or 60 days of a court order. However, if you have to go back to the judge, it will lengthen the amount of time it takes to complete the Order of Settlement and ultimately to get your check.
Once the Order of Settlement is agreed, you sign it and get it notarized. Once signed, you accept the terms.
Once you agree to the terms and the notarized copy reaches the other party, the at-fault party (usually their insurance company) sends out the check to your attorney. The check is also payable to you, but your attorney will deduct their fees and costs from the sum before you receive it.
Before anyone gets paid, however, the check goes into an escrow account. The escrow process ensures that the check clears before any money gets spent.
Once it clears, your attorney pays any liens against you (medical bills, insurance bills, previous attorney bills, current attorney costs). Your attorney pays these first because if they don’t get paid, they can bring a civil suit against you.
Only after everyone gets paid do you get your settlement check. You receive what’s leftover, but you’re free to do with it what you please.
All in, you could wait 60-90 days from the date you accepted the settlement until you get the check.
Keep in mind that these timelines are for lump-sum settlements. Structured settlements work a little differently and use a different schedule.
The road to reaching an agreement on a settlement is already long. Unfortunately, you won’t get your check the same day you settle. However, the process of receiving a settlement check is long because it protects you and the at-fault party from future litigation.
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