How Long Can It Take to Recover a Check in a Personal Injury Case?
Being injured in an accident can trigger a personal injury claim that may take weeks, months, or even years to resolve. Some cases settle quickly, while others take a year or longer before heading to trial. Although you will be eagerly waiting for your check, it is in your best interests not to rush the claims process.
Insurance companies often try to resolve personal injury claims within 30 days from when they are filed. If you do choose to settle quickly rather than having your claim drag on for months, it might mean accepting less money than your case is worth. Once you sign a release of liability, the insurance company will typically send a check within three to six weeks.
A variety of issues can cause a claim to take months or even years to resolve. Some cases are complex, or your injuries might be severe, which can make it take significantly longer before a settlement is reached, especially if you must go to trial. If your injuries are severe, your attorney will likely advise you to wait on resolving your claim until you fully recover or reach the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). Waiting will give you a better understanding of the extent of your injuries and any future implications.
What Steps Are Involved Before a Personal Injury Check Is Received?
Step 1: Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
It is crucial to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help ensure your rights are protected every step of the way. Research shows that personal injury victims who are represented by an attorney receive settlements that are three and a half times larger than those who go it alone.
Step 2: Thorough Investigation
Your attorney will begin building a solid case and compile as much supporting evidence as possible, including collecting your medical records, photos from the accident scene, available surveillance footage, interviewing witnesses, obtaining police reports, receipts for accident-related expenses, pay stubs to prove lost income, and more.
Step 3: Demand and Negotiations
Once you recover or reach MMI, your attorney will draft and send a demand letter in an attempt to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company. Most personal injury cases settle before trial, and this outcome is ideal since it will reduce expenses and the amount of time you must wait before receiving a check. However, if an agreement that accurately reflects the value of your claim cannot be reached, you and your attorney may choose to proceed to trial.
Step 4: Filling a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If negotiations with the insurance company come to a standstill, the next step is filing a lawsuit. Before your case makes it to trial, there are several more steps involved:
Serving the Summons: The complaint you filed must be served on the defendant (at-fault party). The defendant then has 30 days to file an answer, in which they will typically deny most or all of the allegations.
Discovery: Each party will investigate the other’s legal claims and defenses. Interrogatories (questions) and document requests will be sent to each other, and depositions will also be taken.
Negotiation and Mediation: Before trial, the attorneys will again negotiate to explore a possible settlement. The court may also request that the parties attempt a mediated settlement.
Step 5: Trial
If negotiations and mediation do not result in a settlement, the case will proceed to trial. Each side will have a chance to present their evidence then the case will be decided by a jury. If the defendant is found legally responsible for your injury, the court will award you damages. However, the defense may appeal the verdict, further delaying your payment. The court’s decision whether to uphold or reverse the jury’s verdict will determine whether or not you will ultimately recover compensation.
Who Receives the Check for Personal Injury Damages?
Before sending a check, the defendant’s insurance company will require you to sign a release of liability, stating that the matter is settled with the agreed amount, and you release the defendant from further claims. The insurer will then forward your check to your attorney’s office. Before your attorney can send you your share of the proceeds, they must first pay any administrative costs such as liens. For example, your healthcare providers may have medical liens against your personal injury award to pay for your treatment in connection to the accident. After the necessary payments are made, your attorney will deduct their contingency fee and legal costs then forward the remaining amount to you.
Waiting for a check after a personal injury can be frustrating and stressful. Our team at Rosenbaum & Associates wants to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation possible. Call (215) 569-0200 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.