Mark W. Mathys | May 29, 2023 | Personal Injury
Upon reaching a settlement in a personal injury case, it is natural to want your payment as soon as possible so you can move forward with your life. But you may not know that your lawyer can hold your settlement check in escrow before you actually receive the payment.
This common practice may seem frustrating, but it’s done to ensure that all parties’ obligations are fulfilled on a timely basis.
The Settlement Process and Timeline
So, how long can your lawyer hold your settlement check? There is a general timeline for the disbursement of a settlement check, though delays may occur in certain circumstances.
Here’s an outline of the usual timeline:
Negotiating a Settlement: Once both parties reach an agreement, they usually work on finalizing the terms. Depending on the complexity of the case, this could take between a few weeks and a few months.
Payment of Settlement: Following the agreement, the defendant or their insurance company has an obligation to pay the settlement within the specified timeframe (usually 30 days).
Transfer to Escrow: Once the payment is received, your lawyer typically deposits the settlement check into an escrow account. This can take a few days to clear, especially if the payment is a large sum.
Distribution of Funds: After the check clears, your lawyer will ensure that all liens and obligations—such as medical bills, legal fees, and case expenses—are paid off. Once these obligations are satisfied, the remaining funds will be disbursed to you.
Keep reading to learn more about the disbursement process.
The Settlement Disbursement Process: Timeframe and Responsibilities
While there is no official time limit for how long a lawyer can hold your settlement money in escrow, attorneys usually aim to disburse the funds within a few weeks after receiving the final settlement amount.
However, delays may arise due to various responsibilities that the attorney has before disbursing the funds to all concerned parties. It is crucial to maintain patience during this period and trust that your lawyer is working diligently to complete the necessary steps.
Some of the main reasons for holding settlement funds in escrow include:
- Paying off medical providers: A significant number of personal injury cases involve repaying medical expenses or medical liens associated with the plaintiff’s injuries. Before disbursing the funds, your attorney must determine the total amount needed to pay the medical expenses and disburse the funds accordingly.
- Settling other outstanding liens: Your attorney is responsible for distributing the settlement escrow funds, including identifying and paying any other outstanding liens, such as other creditors or government agencies that have a legal claim on a portion of the settlement money.
- Finalizing paperwork and fees: Before releasing the settlement check, your lawyer needs to ensure that all necessary paperwork is completed and all legal fees are accounted for. This may include calculating and deducting their attorney’s fees and case-related expenses.
Your attorney will work on these responsibilities, and the escrow account will remain active until they have completed all the necessary disbursement duties.
What Can You Do to Facilitate a Smooth Disbursement Process?
While managing the settlement funds is primarily the responsibility of your attorney, there are a few actions you can take to help ensure a smooth delivery process:
- Maintain clear communication with your attorney: Discuss with your attorney the expected timeline for distributing funds and keep the lines of communication open to address any concerns or changes.
- Organize your documents: Make sure you provide your attorney with all relevant documents, such as medical bills and receipts, to help them facilitate the distribution process.
- Be patient: Understand that your attorney is working on your behalf and following all necessary protocols to release your settlement funds properly.
Most attorneys aim to disburse the funds within a few weeks after receiving the settlement amount. If you have any other questions or need assistance, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.