A very common question we hear is “How long does it take to get a personal injury settlement check?” The answer is that every personal injury case is unique. The time frame for a settlement can range from a few months to years. For instance, the average time for a car accident settlement may be different than other types of personal injury settlements.
If you’re considering accepting a settlement, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney. The law surrounding personal injury is complex; our attorneys at Gordon & Gordon can help advise you on which course of action is best for your family. If you’re starting to wonder “how long does it take to get a settlement check?” Gordon & Gordon has the answer!
How Long Does It Take To Get A Settlement Check: What is a Personal Injury Settlement?
Before we talk about a personal injury settlement check timeline, let’s talk about what accepting a personal injury settlement means.
A personal injury settlement is some amount of money a defendant pays to a plaintiff in a personal injury case. If the plaintiff accepts this settlement, the case does not proceed to trial.
This is how most personal injury cases end, rather than in a jury verdict.
To arrive at a settlement, both the defendant and the plaintiff will come up with rough estimates of what they think the case is worth. The plaintiff’s insurance will likely be the one paying the settlement rather than the plaintiff themselves.
Once both sides have rough estimates, they’ll start sending demand letters back and forth. (See: How To Write an Effective Personal Injury Demand Letter.) Depending on how strong the plaintiff’s case is, the amount each side finds acceptable may increase or decrease. If the plaintiff is likely to win at trial, the defendant may choose to accept a higher settlement offer. If the plaintiff’s chances at trial are neutral, they may, in turn, be willing to accept a somewhat lower settlement.
Once either side makes an offer that is acceptable to the other, both sides will sign a settlement agreement. The plaintiff will also sign a release giving up all future right to pursue a lawsuit against the plaintiff.
This process is one reason it is so important to have a personal injury attorney. Without an attorney to advise you, an insurance company might convince you to accept a lower settlement than you deserve.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Settlement Check: Why The Delay?
There are three reasons why the answer to “how long does it take to get a settlement check” could be quite some time:
- Legal or factual problems with the case
- The case involves a large sum of money
- Your doctor is still treating you for injuries related to the accident
Legal or Factual Problems
One of the key factors in a personal injury case is determining liability. Determining liability for an accident depends on whether someone was careless or negligent. (See: What Determines Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?)
If liability is difficult to prove, the defendant’s insurance will offer a lowball settlement, if any settlement at all. In this case, it may take a while to arrive at a settlement amount.
There may also be problems determining damages. If your doctor can’t determine whether the defendant’s negligence caused your injury, the defendant’s insurance will lowball you again. You need a doctor to testify that the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries to get a reasonable settlement offer.
The Case Involves Large Damages
Insurers won’t just pay out large sums of money without a thorough investigation. They will investigate every facet of liability.
In cases of large damages, the insurance company will also want to interview you, the plaintiff. They will ask you to recall parts of the accident and your injuries. The insurance company may take quite a while to evaluate damages if they are at risk of paying out large sums of money. If your case involves huge amounts of damages, you may be wondering “how long does it take to get a settlement check” for quite a while.
Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement
You should not agree to a settlement while your doctor is still treating your injuries. If you settle before you are at a point of maximum medical improvement, and an injury suddenly comes to light that increases your medical bills, you have lost the right to go after the defendant for more money.
If it takes you a considerable time to reach maximum medical improvement, that could, of course, delay your settlement.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Settlement Check: Settling For Less
It is obviously best if you don’t settle for less than you deserve.
But if you need a personal injury check right away, you should still consult a personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you get your settlement as quickly as possible.
After You Agree On A Settlement, How Long Does It Take To Get A Settlement Check?
The typical timeline for the settlement process is four to six weeks. This will vary on a case-by-case basis.
However, the largest delay in receiving your settlement check is the negotiation phase. Once you and the insurance company arrive at a suitable number, the rest of the process should be fairly quick.
The insurance company will have you sign a release that officially settles your claim. The release will state that you are giving up your right to sue the plaintiff. Once the insurance company receives this release, you will receive the agreed-upon sum of money.
Your attorney will receive your personal injury settlement check first. They will handle any liens on your settlement funds, such as your medical bills. They will also take their own fee out of this lump sum, as well as out-of-pocket expenses and other costs.
You will then receive the rest in the form of a check from your attorney’s office.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Settlement Check: Call Gordon & Gordon And Find Out!
The process for receiving a personal injury settlement is intricate and requires experience in personal injury. If you don’t hire the services of a personal injury attorney, an insurance company may persuade you to accept a small settlement.
At Gordon & Gordon, our attorneys have a combined legal experience of 30 years handling personal injury cases. If you’re wondering “how long does it take to get a settlement check?” we can help you, too.
If you or a loved one is dealing with a personal injury in the Shreveport-Bossier area, give us a call at 318.716.HELP. Lines are available 24/7. You can also drop us a message with some of the details of your case.