If you are the victim of an accident, you have the right to seek financial compensation for your costs. You can file a lawsuit to recover your damages, but it’s usually not necessary. An insurance policy usually covers situations where injuries happen.
You can often file a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company for compensation. For example, the at-fault driver in a car accident should have auto insurance to cover the accident. Insurance companies will usually offer a settlement to avoid the cost of a lawsuit.
If you get a settlement, how is it paid to you?
Let’s look at the typical settlement process.
It can take weeks to get money after reaching a settlement in your car accident case. By most estimates, over a month may pass before the settlement is final, and money is in your hands. There are a few steps left to complete in the settlement process, even after you reach an agreement. Only after these steps are complete will the insurance company send the check to us. We will get you paid as soon as possible.
Understanding the Settlement and Payment Process
Once we reach a verbal agreement for a fair settlement of your case, there are additional steps in the process that must occur. We will need to review and approve the proposed release. Then we make appropriate changes before you can sign the release. A release generally states:
- We accept the settlement offer in the agreed-on amount; and
- In exchange for this compensation, we will not pursue any further legal action related to this incident or injuries.
How Settlement Payments Work
Before a personal injury claim goes to trial, both parties often decide on a settlement. The insurance company pays compensation in one of two ways:
- As a lump sum of cash
- As a structured settlement
Most personal injury settlements are paid all at once. However, some injury victims will agree to a structured settlement where the money is paid in installments.
Lump-sum settlements are best for most accident victims. If you get a structured settlement offer, it’s best to consult with a lawyer immediately. Regular settlement payments typically end up benefiting the payer more than you.
How the Insurance Company Makes a Settlement Offer
Insurance policies are usually involved in accidents like:
- Car accidents
- Commercial truck accidents
- Slip and falls
- Dog bites and animal attacks
Georgia is an at-fault state. This means the negligent party is responsible for the costs of the accident. If someone else was responsible for your accident and you were injured, that person or party is liable. You can seek compensation for your damages, according to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated §51-12-4.
You can usually file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. When you do this, the insurance company will look to:
- Reduce its costs as much as possible, and
- Resolve the claim as quickly as possible.
The insurer might offer you a settlement very soon after your accident. This money will probably be a lowball, meaning it doesn’t come close to covering your costs. The insurance company knows that if you accept an offer, you won’t be able to seek additional money for the accident.
Always talk to a lawyer before accepting a settlement offer.
Do not sign anything or agree to any money without consulting a lawyer first.
If you get a lowball offer, you can make a counteroffer. It’s normal for an insurance company and accident victim to go back and forth until they reach a settlement that works for both sides. An experienced lawyer will handle the negotiating and give you the best chance at a fair offer.
The Insurer Must Receive the Agreement Before Issuing a Check
The insurance company will not start the process of sending a check until it has this release in hand. Then, it will request a check for the amount we settled on. Getting this check issued may take a few hours or a few weeks.
When the check is ready, the Defendant or insurance company will send it to us if we represent you in your case. If the Defendant has an attorney, the check may initially be forwarded to that attorney. We will process the check, and deposit it in our trust account. The check takes about 5 days to clear.
The Payment Process for a Settlement
After you settle your case, the insurance company must pay. The insurer typically pays your settlement through a check. The insurance company might address the settlement check to:
- You and your lawyer’s firm
- A health insurance company
If the insurance company needs to pay you and a health insurance company, there might be two checks. It usually takes a couple of weeks for your lawyer to receive the settlement check(s).
When the settlement check arrives, your lawyer will deduct their agreed-upon percentage. Then, the funds will usually go to a trust account. When the check clears, your lawyer will typically write a check for your portion and any other third-parties who get paid.
How Long It Takes to Get Your Settlement
After you settle with the insurance company, you usually don’t have to wait long to get your payment. Once your lawyer receives the settlement check, you can have your money in as little as two to three business days.
In some cases, the timeline takes longer. If the insurance company takes a long time to pay, your lawyer can light a fire on what’s slowing down the process.
The Benefits of Settlements vs. Lawsuits
Most personal injury claims end with a settlement. However, there are situations where you might benefit from filing a lawsuit.
If you take your case to trial, there is more risk than with a settlement. While you can potentially win more in court, you can also end up with nothing if you lose. Most lawyers will advise working towards a fair settlement with the insurance company.
Settlements act as a compromise between you and the other side. The liable party for your personal injury damages compensates you without a lengthy, expensive court trial.
Call us at Essa, Janho, & Associates for your free consultation.