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CAN I ASK MY LAWYER FOR A COPY OF THE SETTLEMENT CHECK?
If you receive any type of settlement as the result of a personal injury case, you will receive a copy of the settlement check. This settlement check is issued to you and to the law firm that represents you. You will also be required to endorse the check so that payments can be disbursed.
How The Settlement Process Works In A Personal Injury Case
When you are awarded a settlement in a personal injury case, the insurance company will issue you a check for the amount that they owe. This check will be issued usually within 30 days of the settlement agreement. This check will be issued to you and to the name of your attorney or the law firm.
In most cases, you will be required to endorse the check so that it can be deposited. The only exception will be if you have given your lawyer a Power of Attorney to deposit the check on your behalf. The law firm will deposit this into a separate trust account, not not the account of the attorney or the law firm. This ensures that your money is never comingled with the law firm.
Once the check is deposited, the law firm will conduct a final accounting. This is when the firm pays all of your medical providers, legal expenses such as expert witnesses and court filing fees, and takes their payment. A complete accounting sheet with the amounts deducted and for what purpose will be provided to you. Once all of your debts have been paid, the law firm will issue you a final check for the remaining balance.
Large Settlements May Be Handled Differently
In the event that a very large settlement is given to the injured party, the insurance provider may request that the settlement is paid through an annuity. This allows the insurance company to make payments to the Plaintiff over a period of time. When this occurs, the initial oayment is sent to the law firm so that a final accounting can be completed. This ensures that all medical bills and expenses are covered, as well as legal fees.
After that point, you will have an arrangement made with the insurer to receive your payments directly from the annuity for however long the payment period will last. Once the final accounting is completed, there is no longer any obligation to the attorney or law firm.
What If My Attorney Refuses To Give Me Copies Of The Final Accounting?
If your attorney or law firm refuses to give you copies of your check and the final accounting, you may have cause for legal action against the firm. This is a very serious issue. Law firms are entrusted with the money for their clients because they have been hired to act in the best interest of that client. Handling their money ethically is included in all of these actions.
Thankfully, it is so rare for any attorney or law firm to mishandle their clients’ money that you should not have to worry about this issue. A law firm is only successful if it is honest and aggressively represents its clients. If it acts in a manner that is not honest and up front, they face many legal problems themselves.
When You Hire An Attorney
When you hire an attorney to represent your personal injury case, you are encouraged to speak to them about their accounting practices and how they will handle the final settlement. It is a good thing to know and understand how that specific firm handles this part of your case.
If, for some reason, your Los Angeles personal injury attorney does not have an answer, or you do not like their answer, politely finish the consultation and go home and seek out another attorney to represent your case. You must feel 100 percent comfortable with your attorney and their firm to have a successful case.
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