After reaching a verdict in your personal injury case and receiving the maximum settlement payment, you’re sure to be delighted, especially considering lawsuits often take months or years to settle. Perhaps you have pending bills to cover, debts to pay, and other financial obligations, and you’re eager to receive your compensation. But how long can a lawyer hold your settlement check?
Accessing your settlement money might not be as easy as you think. At High Rise Financial, we understand how financially strenuous the claims process can be. We can provide legal funding to help cover your living expenses while you wait for your settlement check.
In This Article
Your Settlement Fee Is Subject to Legislations and Delays
Some states have legislation restricting the maximum waiting time for a payable settlement to be processed. Thirty days is the maximum period in most jurisdictions. Even after fulfilling these statutory requirements, you’re likely to encounter delays, extending the waiting period by weeks or months.
There is often nothing your lawyer can do to hasten the process. The waiting time varies from one case to another based on the nature of each lawsuit, and it largely depends on the defendant’s attitude toward your recovery amount.
The defendant might be reluctant to pay the amount out of their pocket, causing delays. It’s recommended to be realistic about the settlement processing time, as you might encounter additional formalities.
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Steps to Getting a Settlement Check
Typically, there are four steps to receiving a settlement check. These include:
Sign Release Forms
Once your lawyer completes the negotiations and both parties have signed the settlement agreement, you must sign a release form. By doing so, you declare that you won’t take further legal action against the defendant(s) in your case. Your attorney will review the terms of the release and you can suggest any modifications if necessary.
Wait for the Defendant to Pay
State laws offer defendants a timeline to pay the compensation. The downside is that some defendants wait until the latter days of the period provided by state laws to pay the settlement fee. That can significantly extend the time it takes to receive the settlement money.
Wait for the Check to Clear
In most cases, the at-fault party sends the settlement check to your lawyer. Typically, your lawyer will hold your settlement check in an escrow account until it clears. The process usually takes five days, although larger settlement checks may take up to seven days.
Once the check clears, your lawyer deducts their legal fees from the settlement amount.
Settle Lien Payments
Sometimes other parties place liens on your settlement amount, giving them the right to seize your assets to pay the debt. For instance, a doctor may provide medical care after a car accident at no cost, but they’ll place a lien on the settlement. Your lawyer will use the settlement money to clear any outstanding liens, debts, or bills on your behalf, including:
- Medical costs
- Private investigator costs
- Expert witness fees
While your lawyer can swiftly clear most debts and liens placed on your account, clearing government liens, such as Medicaid, might take longer. After they’ve settled all the financial obligations of your case, they’ll send you the check via mail or wire transfer.
Settlements that Require Structured Payments
In some cases, the defendant may pay the settlement in structured payments. A structured payment is when the liable party pays the compensation over time in small proportions. This settlement structure often applies to claims involving a minor or a victim who suffered a catastrophic injury that requires ongoing medical tests and treatments.
Once the court orders a structured settlement payment, the defendant or insurance company sets up an annuity account for the claimant to receive funds regularly for a fixed period. If you and the defendant agree on a structured settlement, ensure you consult your lawyer about the terms of the settlement payout. Without reviewing the terms of the agreement carefully, you expose yourself to financial risks and delays.
How to Speed Up Your Settlement-Check Delivery Time
From preparing your claim and filing it to undergoing the litigation or negotiation process, the timeline for your settlement might seem like a lifetime. Luckily, you can take some steps to speed up the process:
Draft a Release Form
As your case draws closer to settlement, it would be best to start drafting a release form in advance. This ensures that the document is readily available once you’ve reached and signed a settlement agreement.
Prepare a Lien/Debt Settlement Plan
Work with your attorney to determine the liens and outstanding bills as the defendant processes the release form. This streamlines the lien settlement process.
Respond to Your Lawyer Quickly
You must always be ready to respond to your lawyer’s requests. Delaying your response only extends the settlement process.
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Why You Should Apply for Legal Funding
You might be financially constrained as you wait for your pending settlement. Typically, lawyers are not obliged to offer a settlement advance, but you can apply for legal funding to get the funds you need to cover your monthly bills, medical costs, and other living expenses. Claimants and lawyers see the value in legal financing during the claims process.
Unlike traditional loans, which require the plaintiff to pay back the money regardless of the case outcome, pre-settlement legal funding is a non-recourse loan. The lender offers the settlement advance on a contingency basis. That means you’re obliged to pay the amount only if you receive compensation.
With legal funding, your attorney can fight for your maximum settlement fee. Sometimes claimants are forced to accept a fraction of their would-be settlement simply because they are too cash-starved to wait for the settlement. A legal loan alleviates your financial worries, allowing your attorney to prepare a strong case that guarantees maximum compensation.
How Can You Spend a Lawsuit Loan?
Pre-settlement funding recipients often have concerns that their legal funding will be restricted or monitored. However, your lawsuit loan is yours to spend however you decide it needs to be spent.
Many people seeking funding through a pre-settlement loan will require financial assistance covering their regular household bills such as their rent or mortgage payments, utility expenses, car and vehicle payments, phone and Internet bills, the costs of purchasing groceries and other household necessities, and more.
When you are compensated through your civil claim or personal injury lawsuit, there will not be any restrictions. The same goes for your lawsuit loan funding.
Partner with High Rise Financial and Access Timely Legal Funding
If you have filed a personal injury lawsuit and need a portion of the settlement as you wait for your case to close, High Rise Financial has you covered. We can work with your attorney to set you up for legal funding. Contact us today and alleviate the financial stress you might have during the litigation process.
Call or text (877) 735-0016 or fill out our form to apply today for free.