After going through the legal claims process, you are probably pretty exhausted.
Negotiations, paperwork, and meeting with your attorney—it all takes the life out of you.
The uncertainty alone that you face as a litigant can have a severe impact on your life.
Then, when you sign that settlement agreement or win in court, you probably feel a massive weight lifted off of your shoulders.
Finally, after all the delays—weeks, months, or even years of litigation—your conflict achieves an effective resolution.
You can then put the conflict behind you, pay those extra bills, and have the satisfaction that you stood up for yourself.
But the saga doesn’t end there. When you sign your settlement agreement, your settlement money doesn’t just magically appear in your bank account.
You still have to get it somehow. But how? Simply put, your lawsuit settlement check needs to go through the settlement check process with the help of your attorney.
At this point, you might find yourself wondering, How long does it take to get settlement money?
What can I expect from the settlement check process? Or even, How long can a lawyer hold your settlement check?
Since this is a part of the settlement process that often goes undiscussed, these are good questions to ask.
We want all of our clients to have as much information as possible, so the writers at Injury Wallet put together this piece to help.
What Steps Does Your Settlement Check Need to Go Through
Before you receive your settlement money, the money needs to go through a process. Here is a brief outline of what happens. First, you need to sign a release form.
The release form releases the defendant from all liability surrounding the incident in question. Basically, you agree that you cannot sue them again over the incident in question.
Next, the defendant needs to process the settlement internally. This is where a lot of delays happen. Why? Because it all depends on the defendant’s internal processes.
There’s just no way to know exactly what they are and how long they will take.
Next, the defendant sends your settlement check to your attorney. There, it will face a small delay as they hold it.
How long a lawyer can hold your settlement check for depends on their reason for holding it.
However, your lawyer will always hold your settlement check for some period of time.
For example, every settlement check needs to go through a trust or escrow account.
An escrow is a contract in which two parties designate a third party to receive, hold, and disburse money or property for the contracting parties.
Your lawyer is the third party in this equation. Sometimes during this stage, your lawyer will need to pay out claims against your settlement.
Some of the most common claims against settlements are medical and child support liens.
Finally, your attorney will deduct their fees from the settlement money before sending you the final check.
Claim Release Forms
A release form is a legally binding agreement asserting that you will not pursue further legal action against the defendant for the specific case covered by the settlement.
In other words, after they pay you the agreed-upon amount, you cannot later go back and try to get more money.
In most cases, the defendant will not issue a check until you sign the release form. You may have to sign multiple release forms if multiple parties are involved.
Your lawyer will read through the form before signing to ensure that the terms are fair and in alignment with the proposed agreement.
There may be circumstances where you or the defendant disagree with provisions in the release form and need to renegotiate or rewrite it.
There are quite a few things that can potentially delay your settlement money. We alluded to a few of the most common delays in the previous section, but let’s quickly review them:
- The time it takes you and the defendant to sign the release forms;
- The time it takes for the defendant to go through their internal protocols and send the check;
- The amount of time your lawyer holds on to your settlement check;
- The amount of time it takes for your lawyer to settle any claims against your settlement; and
- The amount of time it takes your attorney to deduct their fees, write a check, and send it to you.
Your settlement check will almost always face these delays. The only one that may not apply to all settlement checks is a claim against your settlement.
Unfortunately, many of these delays are impossible to predict. There is no way for you to know for certain, for example, how long it will take the defendant to sign the release forms.
Furthermore, there’s no way for you to know what their internal processes are and how long they will take.
Other Potential Delays
Several other circumstances can delay your settlement check outside of those already outlined. Here are a few to consider:
- Different state laws regulating the settlement check process;
- The defendant delays payment,
- The settlement check does not clear,
- The defendant doesn’t send the check,
- Release forms or other documents get lost in the mail or otherwise misplaced, and
- You or the defendant disagree on the contents of the release.
As you can probably tell, a lot of these delays are a bit less common than the first delays we discussed. That’s because the steps in the settlement check process cover such a wide variety of different delays.
Internal processes, for example, could dictate that corporate officers in several different departments need to sign off on the settlement. Imagine if some of those officers disagreed about the settlement. Things could take a while.
The defendant typically sends the settlement check directly to your attorney. Your lawyer will place it in a trust or escrow account rather than the law firm’s bank account.
Once it clears after five to seven days—depending on the check size—your lawyer will distribute the funds. The law firm takes costs and fees, then sends you the final payout.
Outstanding Invoices and Liens
You should not have any claim-related expenses after receiving your check. Your lawyer will deduct attorney fees, filing fees, expert testimony or other case-related fees, pre-trial funding, medical liens, and any other outstanding expenses before they issue you the balance.
That means that when you get your check, you should not have to worry about paying back any of those costs.
How Long Can a Lawyer Hold Money in Escrow?
The amount of time your lawyer will hold your settlement money in escrow can vary. Your lawyer will hold onto the money in their trust or escrow account until the check clears.
That way, they can ensure that you get your settlement money. Checks typically clear in a few business days, so your settlement check shouldn’t sit in escrow for more than a week.
If it’s taking longer, contact your attorney to see what’s going on.
How Long Does It Take to Get Lawsuit Money?
Like many questions we field about lawsuit loans and the claims process in general, the answer to this question is, “It depends.”
We can’t provide a specific answer to this question in good faith. How long it will take to get your settlement money depends on the circumstances surrounding it.
On one hand, there are some delays, like escrow, that almost always apply and are easy to quantify.
On the other hand, there are delays, most notably differing internal processes and differing state laws, that vary widely among cases.
These are much harder to quantify. We typically tell our clients to expect to wait at least a few weeks.
Is a Lawsuit Loan the Right Option for You?
If you need financial assistance now and want to avoid high-interest payday loans and credit card bills, consider taking out a lawsuit loan with the help of Injury Wallet.
With cash in your pocket now, you’ll keep more of your settlement money. You won’t have to face the temptation of accepting a subpar settlement offer.
Instead, you can see your case through to the end and hold out for what you deserve.
How Injury Wallet Helps You Keep More of Your Settlement Check
At Injury Wallet, we take care of a daunting and often confusing chore on your behalf: shopping for the best lawsuit loan.
Shopping is fun, but shopping for big-ticket items is often quite stressful. After all, no one wants to purchase something only to realize later that you could have gotten a better deal.
The same applies to lawsuit loans. You don’t want to take out a lawsuit loan only to realize later that you could have gotten a better rate or are paying unexpected hidden fees.
And shopping for lawsuit loans is complicated and time-consuming.
You have to fill out endless applications, pore over just as many loan agreements, process what’s in those loan agreements, and then do it all over again.
No one wants to do that, and without significant experience, it’s easy to make a mistake.
At Injury Wallet, we use our established relationships with the nation’s top lawsuit lenders to find you the best possible deal.
You only have to fill out one application. We do the rest. Let’s see how we can help you. Get started with Injury Wallet today!