How do I collect my personal injury award?
- February 24, 2016
If you have either settled your personal injury lawsuit or have won a verdict at trial, the defendant likely has insurance coverage. When a case settles, your personal injury attorney will then wait for the insurance company to send your check. If you won at trial, it can take up to one or two years for you to receive your money, as many cases are appealed. If the defendant did not have insurance, there are still ways that you can seek to recover your money.
Receiving Your Money After Settlement
If a settlement is reached in your lawsuit, both your attorney and the defendant’s attorney will file a notice with the court informing the court that a settlement was reached. After the court issues a settlement order, both parties will have between 30 and 60 days to complete all of the paperwork, including the release.
The defendant’s attorney will prepare a release, which outlines the terms of the settlement. They then send it to your personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will review it to make certain that it outlines the agreement correctly. If your lawyer has objections, they may argue the matter with the other attorney until it is acceptable. If an agreement is not reached at that stage, they might then ask the court to decide, which can greatly slow the settlement process.
After the release is in an acceptable form, your attorney will send it to you. Normally, you will need to have your signature notarized by a notary public. You shouldn’t sign a release until you’ve had a chance to read it and to ask your lawyer any questions you might have. After you sign this document, you cannot later go back and ask for changes to it.
Other Tasks Before You Receive Your Settlement Check
Once your lawyer receives your settlement check, there are a couple of things they must do before they can send you your portion of it. They have to pay the liens against the award. Common ones are liens from your medical insurance company or from the government if you had Medicaid or Medicare that paid for the treatment of your injuries. Your attorney’s fees will also be deducted and then you will receive the balance.
Receiving Your Money After a Jury Verdict
In most cases that go to trial, defendants appeal jury verdicts. The appellate process can last up to two years. The appeals court may uphold your judgment, reverse your judgment or send it back for a new trial.
If the judgment is upheld or versed, either you or the defendant can appeal the decision to the state’s supreme court. That court can then also uphold, reverse, or send the case back for a new trial. If it is sent back for a new trial, you will have to go through the trial again, and the second ruling will also be subject to the appeals process. This is one reason that many people ultimately decide to settle their cases, as the trial and appeals process can drag on for years.
When the Defendant Has No Insurance
While most personal injury lawyers do not agree to accept lawsuits against uninsured people, they sometimes will if the person being sued has assets from which any settlement or award could be taken. In those cases, your personal injury attorney will likely demand a bank or certified cashier’s check from the defendant before they will agree to have you sign the release.
What The Release Does
The release is a document in which you agree to the terms of the settlement. It will also include language waiving your rights to further litigate the matter in the future. That is why it is so important for you and your lawyer to review it carefully before you sign and agree to the terms outlined in it. Once you send it back, you will not be able to come back later and ask for additional money.
How you will receive your money from your personal injury award depends on whether you reached a settlement or whether you received a verdict at trial. If you have any questions about the timeline to expect in your case, you may want to speak with your personal injury attorney.