It can take a long time to finish a personal injury settlement. With so much riding on the payment, it’s natural to be anxious.
Most of the time, you’ll be waiting on a settlement, not a court decision. Once your lawyer and the insurance company agree on the settlement, the insurance company will send a check to your law firm.
The money goes into an escrow account, and your lawyer begins paying bills.
What bills will your lawyer be paying?
As your personal injury case got sorted you would have acquired creditors such as the hospital that treated you after your injury. Chances are you were unable to pay that money yourself. You may have even fallen behind on some bills and obligations like child support because you were unable to work.
Fortunately when you have a personal injury lawyer this doesn’t turn into a big black mark on your credit. You can send the creditors to your lawyer and they’ll make a lien against the settlement.
Once your settlement is in escrow your lawyer will pay these liens. Yes, it means less money directly in your pocket, but you would have had to pay these debts anyway, and it means not having to face bankruptcy, or liens on your own home. Even non-profit hospitals file liens on homes or try to garnish wages sometimes.
Your attorney may also have to pay out a subrogation. This happens when an insurance company who doesn’t strictly speaking owe the money for the claim goes ahead and covers you. This could be your health insurance provider or your own auto insurance provider. You don’t get to “double dip:” the medical bills only get paid once. So the money goes to that insurance company rather than to the medical provider.
What happens next?
Next you pay your legal fees, which your lawyer takes right out of the settlement. This includes your contingency compensation as well as fees for expert witnesses, court reporting services, deposition services, and other expenses associated with investigating and pursuing this case.
You’re provided with an itemized statement of these fees.
Will you have any money left at all?
After hearing this a lot of our clients start to despair. They start to worry that they won’t get anything from their settlement. This is especially stressful for those who might need to live, at least in part, on some of these funds.
But when you hire a personal injury attorney, you tend to walk away with three to ten times more money than you’d have gotten on your own, even if after all these other payments are accounted for. At the very least, you’ll get all your injury expenses covered, which is really the point of a personal injury case.
Without it, you would end up having to pay for all those expenses out-of-pocket, which would put you in a much worse financial position.
When you visit with us, we’ll be able to give you an estimate of what we think your case is worth and how the math will work out. Just ask us when you make your appointment.