The Process of Receiving a Personal Injury Settlement Check in Florida
March 26, 2023 | Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers | Personal Injury
There is a difference between a claim and a lawsuit, and most people resolve their personal injury claims at the negotiation table rather than in court. It usually takes a few weeks to a few months to reach a settlement. Nevertheless, there is a procedure to follow, starting with signing the agreement and ending with money in your bank account.
Step 1: Sign the Settlement and Release Agreement
After negotiating a settlement, you need to ask your lawyer to draft a settlement and release agreement. The settlement requires the defendant to pay you compensation, and the release obligates you to drop any personal injury claim against the defendant related to the accident. If someone else drafted it, have your lawyer look it over before you sign it. If you have already filed a lawsuit, you should notify the court so they can issue an Order of Settlement.
Sign the agreement in the presence of a notary public, and insist that the defendant do the same. Once both you and the defendant have signed the settlement and release agreement, the defendant (and, by extension, the insurance company) is contractually bound to pay your settlement.
Step 2: The Insurance Company Issues the Settlement Check
The next step is for the defendant (or, more likely, the insurance company) to issue the settlement check. There will probably be at least a bit of red tape involved.
Step 3: Your Lawyer Deducts Any Appropriate Amounts
You might wonder how long a lawyer can hold your settlement check. The answer is “Long enough to make any appropriate deductions.”
Your lawyer will deduct the following amounts (to the extent applicable) before sending you a settlement check:
- Your legal fees (typically 30% to 40% of the total);
- Case expenses (expert witness fees, etc.);
- Enough money to satisfy a medical lien (used to secure your medical debts), if any; and
- Unpaid child support, if you are delinquent on child support payments.
Note that your lawyer must deduct and pay your unpaid child support even if it has nothing to do with your personal injury case.
Step 4: Payday: Your Lawyer Sends You the Balance of the Settlement Funds
Your lawyer will transfer whatever amount remains to your bank account. This amount will be nearly tax-free unless you receive punitive damages.
Possible Payment Delays
Following are some common reasons why you might experience a delay in payment:
- There is a dispute regarding the validity of the settlement agreement or the release forms. The accident victim is a minor (under 18);
- The accident victim died, and you are representing the probate estate;
- The insurance company is large, and their settlement check process is highly bureaucratic; or
- A clerical error occurred.
Be sure to keep in contact with your lawyer regarding any payment delays. Remember, your lawyer’s fee also comes out of this money, making it in your lawyer’s interest to expedite payment.
If the Defendant Refuses to Pay
It is possible (although unlikely) that the defendant or the insurance company will refuse to pay you compensation even after signing a settlement agreement. At this point you will have a contract claim, not a personal injury claim, against the defendant. You can enforce this claim in court just like any other contract claim.
You can ask the court to award you the amount necessary to cover any extra attorney’s fees that you incurred by enforcing the settlement agreement. Courts are typically friendly to such requests, and insurance companies can certainly afford to pay them.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney
Consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. An initial consultation is risk-free because almost no personal injury attorney will charge you for a consultation. The benefit to you is the lawyer’s ability to estimate the value (if any) of your claim. Since personal injury lawyers don’t get paid unless they win, they won’t offer to represent you unless they genuinely believe you have a strong claim.
Contact the Tampa Car Accident Law Firm of Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today
For more information, please contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in Tampa today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
601 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
600 Bypass Dr Suite 224-D, Clearwater, FL 33764
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg Office
111 2nd Ave NE Suite 350, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
5006 Trouble Creek Rd Unit #200, Port Richey, FL 34652
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Lakeland Office
1543 Lakeland Hills Blvd Suite 18, Lakeland, FL 33805