My Injury Case Resolved Without a Lawsuit. What is Next?
The majority of cases are resolved without a lawsuit being filed. Why cases resolve before litigation is the topic of another post. For the purpose of this article I’m not getting into it.
So lets say the insurance company made an offer that was accepted by your lawyer. There is still work to be done. You are about 75% through the process once an agreement is made.
Insurance Company Release
First, the insurance company needs to send a release for review. Your lawyer then needs to go over the release and make sure it is acceptable. Some insurance companies have very straightforward, simple releases. See State Farm. Some insurance companies have bunch of legal mumbo jumbo that makes no sense and five pages worth of some fancy language a lawyer told them to add. See Liberty Mutual.
If an insurance company tries to add language that is not acceptable it becomes a problem. It is rare, but I’ve filed motions to enforce settlement against insurance companies for trying to sneak some language in that wasn’t agreed upon. Those motions take time to be heard by a judge.
Normally, to get a release takes a few days via mail (if its not emailed over). Review is usually pretty quick. Maybe a day. If that’s the case and the release is acceptable it is signed by you and sent back to the insurance company so they can send a check.
Some insurance companies send a check with the release with instruction not to deposit until the release is sent back. This speeds up the process. It really depends on the insurance company and how they handle this procedure.
If they don’ send the release and check together we fax back the release and the insurance company has 30 days to send a check. It usually doesn’t take that long.
Where is the Money Going?
In addition to everything above your lawyer needs to figure out who you owe money to (assuming they haven’t already) and possibly get that number down to get more money in your pocket.
Lets say you have $15,000.00 in total medical expenses. Usually in Kentucky, you will have PIP already paid the first $10,000.00 and there will be $5,000.00 in “outstandings.”
Depending on the settlement that number may be negotiable. If a medical provider has $5,000.00 in outstandings and your settlement is a quarter million dollars they probably aren’t going to negotiate it. If the settlement is $10,000.00 the story line changes.
There is also the issue of health insurance, medicare, and medicaid liens. The amount you owe to these providers MUST be paid by your lawyer. The insurance company for the other side puts it in their release so they do not get sued along with you and your lawyer. Getting a “final lien letter” from these places can only happen when the case resolved. This slows up the process. Keep in mind the slowing of a process is also annoying for us lawyers. We want to get you this money and we want you to be happy! However, liens take some time to figure out.
Once the numbers are sorted out it is time for your lawyer to draw up closing documents showing where all the money is going. That usually isn’t complicated once the numbers are established.
You will then sign the closing documents and if the lawyer has the check it will be deposited into an escrow account. Escrow is a fancy term for basically a holding place. The money must go into a lawyer’s escrow account and then be distributed from there. When a check is deposited into my escrow account it needs twenty four hours to hit the system before I can write a check to a client.
This is a GENERAL overview. If there are no liens or outstandings this should take a few weeks. If there are liens and outstandings it can take longer.
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