About a Personal Injury Settlement
A common deterrent that prevents personal injury victims from filing insurance claims is the anticipated stress of undergoing legal proceedings–more specifically, how they will obtain their personal injury settlements.
To better understand the processes and procedures of a personal injury case, here’s an overview of what happens after a claim is filed and how settlements are paid out in California.
The Plaintiff Signs a Release Form
Further into the case proceedings, after the initial personal injury claim has been filed and a demand letter for compensation has been submitted, settlement negotiations between the plaintiff (person filing the claim) and the defendant (the liable party’s insurance company) will begin.
Once a settlement proposal is submitted by the other party, it can be reviewed by the plaintiff–and ideally by an experienced Bakersfield personal injury lawyer. However, legal representation is not required to file a personal injury claim.
If both parties agree to the terms, a settlement release form will be prepared and both parties will sign it to approve of the agreement. This legally binding document extinguishes the defendant’s liability in exchange for a specified financial compensation, preventing that person from being held responsible for the same accident in the future.
Consulting with your personal injury attorney before signing the release form is essential. This document is filled with complex phrasing and legal jargon, making it difficult to comprehend. Once the document is signed, it cannot be undone, regardless if the signees had an adequate understanding of what they were signing or not.
The Insurance Company Cuts a Check
Once the paperwork is formalized and completed by both parties, the agreed-upon amount must be paid out. Failure to sign this release form leaves all potentially responsible parties vulnerable to future lawsuits or liability claims.
Upon signing the release form, it is submitted to the liable party’s insurance company, who will then issue a check in the plaintiff’s name. Once the check is delivered, it can be reviewed to ensure accuracy and compliance with the agreed-upon terms.
In California, the insurance company is legally obligated to promptly issue a settlement check following the acceptance of the personal injury claim. This payment must be made within 30 days of the settlement date.
If Working with an Attorney, the Law Firm Deposits the Check
Depending on the payment method between a client and a personal injury attorney, the settlement check may go to the law firm.
Law firms that work on a contingency fee basis do not charge upfront fees. Instead, if a case reaches an ideal verdict, then the attorneys are compensated with a smaller percentage of the settlement money. This percentage should be discussed and confirmed between the attorney and client at the start of the case.
Then, the remaining majority of the personal injury settlement is issued to the client. If applicable, part of the personal injury settlement will also be applied to any outstanding medical bills, liens, and other expenses incurred in relation to the case.
Negotiate Medical Bills and Other Debt
Sometimes, medical liens are used in personal injury cases, so injured victims may receive the medical care required to treat serious injuries.
Essentially, a medical lien grants patients medical treatment at a reduced rate without charging upfront costs. Patients will be expected to pay for their healthcare services once their personal injury cases have been settled.
Before personal injury settlements paid directly to a plaintiff can be completed, California law states that any outstanding medical bills must first be resolved. This is where an experienced personal injury attorney can provide expert guidance on potential solutions.
Personal injury attorneys can also negotiate directly with medical providers on a client’s behalf, ensuring that the necessary care is provided, further safeguarding settlement funds.
Attorneys Play a Pivotal Role in Securing Fair Settlements
A dedicated attorney strives to secure a fair personal injury settlement and payout that comprehensively addresses all medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. This proactive approach ensures that injured clients are not burdened with unpaid debts after the settlement agreement has been finalized.
For instance, a personal injury attorney may be able to negotiate additional compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. They can also facilitate a lump sum payment from the liable parties that would cover all outstanding debts, providing a much-needed financial cushion following an accident.
Money Is Delivered to the Client
Once all other billing matters have been resolved, a detailed invoice will be submitted to the plaintiff, outlining the breakdown of the settlement proceeds.
This comprehensive statement will clearly indicate the settlement amount, deductions for liens (if applicable), and legal fees (attorney’s fees or contingency fees).
Once the invoice has been reviewed and signed, a settlement check should be immediately mailed to the plaintiff. If working with an attorney, clients also have the option to retrieve the check from the law firm.
The specific timeline for receiving the check may vary depending on the complexity of the case and the processing procedures of the insurance company. However, an attorney will keep clients informed throughout the process and ensure their funds are received in a timely manner.
Personal Injury Settlement Payment Options
In civil cases involving a personal injury lawsuit, plaintiffs generally have two ways to receive their monetary award.
- Lump Sum Payment: A payment option where the full settlement amount is released at once
- Structured Settlement: A payment option that is released in installments spanning multiple years
There is no better option for how the settlement amount is released. It depends on the option that best suits the client and their needs. Experienced attorneys can offer more insight into each payment option so that clients can make an informed decision.
How Long Does It Take for Personal Injury Settlements to Be Paid?
The timeframe for reaching a California personal injury settlement conclusion varies significantly from case to case. This is because every personal injury claim is unique and presents its own challenges.
While the average settlement time frame typically falls within 11 months, depending on the severity of damages (physical injuries, medical bills, lost wages, etc.), some personal injury cases may require a considerably longer OR shorter period of time to reach an ideal outcome.
In some instances, the other party’s insurance may reject a claim or refuse to make a fair offer. If this occurs, a personal injury lawsuit may be filed, but it will also extend the length of time to reach an optimal outcome.
Ultimately, the time frame for receiving a personal injury settlement payout is contingent upon the unique details and complexities of each individual case.
What Delays Personal Injury Cases From Being Finalized?
The time frame for settling a personal injury case is dependent upon various factors. Some of the most common scenarios include the following:
- Court proceedings if the case goes to trial
- The case is being appealed
- Documentation is incomplete or inaccurate
- Liability is being disputed
- Liability is not clear
- Dispute over how much is owed to compensate for damages
- Other party’s insurance delaying the process
Personal injury cases will require patience, but with the right legal expertise, the return can be well worth the wait. Collaborating with the best Bakersfield personal injury attorneys who possess a deep understanding of settlement procedures and how to deal with difficult insurance companies increases the chances of securing a case win.
For Comprehensive Support, Contact Horizon Accident Lawyers
Personal injury attorneys play a crucial role in advocating for victims’ rights and ensuring that they receive the full and fair settlement they deserve. Their expertise in navigating the complexities of personal injury claims and their commitment to client satisfaction make them valuable allies.
If you have been involved in an accident and sustained injuries, consult with our Bakersfield personal injury law firm. Our legal team can provide personalized guidance, protect your interests, and help you recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
Schedule a free consultation to speak with a personal injury lawyer from Horizon today.