How Long to Get a Settlement Check After Signing a Release?

Dawn Pinnisi

April 5, 2024

Getting a settlement check can take a few weeks and up to a month after signing a release in a personal injury case. The total time for receiving a settlement check may vary depending on the applicable administrative procedures and the case’s value.

Once you reach a settlement agreement, the insurer will perform audit checks and issue a settlement check to your attorney. Then, there are additional steps before the attorney credits money to your account.

Never hesitate to discuss this process and what to expect with a trusted New Jersey personal injury attorney.

How the Settlement Process Works?

Once an injured victim, with the help of a personal injury attorney, agrees on a settlement, your attorney and the opposing lawyer will report to the court within the jurisdiction. Subsequently, the court issues an order of settlement plus a release form.

The release form is an agreement stating that if the insurer makes the payment, you—as an injured victim— will forgo any further legal proceedings against the company. The release form also states that the injured victim will not seek additional compensation from the liable party for their losses.

Signing the release form signifies the end of negotiations and the commencement of the payment process.

Here are a few steps related to the payment of the settlement check:

  • The insurance company issues your personal injury attorney a check with the gross settlement amount
  • The attorney deposits the settlement check into an escrow account
  • The lawyer deducts outstanding expenses, including legal fees, medical lien, and court costs
  • The attorney writes you a check of the settlement balance and sends it to you.

Types of Deductions in a Settlement Check

Once an attorney receives a check from an insurance company, they deposit it into an escrow account. After the bank clears the funds in an escrow account, your attorney can begin to disburse the funds.

Your attorney will have to pay any outstanding liens, including any pending debts you may owe to entities related to your case. Your attorney will prioritize such liens, including medical liens because failure to pay gives the creditor the right to file a civil lawsuit against you.

In addition, the attorney will deduct the applicable legal fees. Since an attorney pays routine legal expenses and costs as they come up, they then deduct their share from the settlement or court award.

Most attorneys use the contingency fee approach, which involves deducting a percentage of the settlement to cover the legal fees. If your car accident attorney obtains a settlement by negotiating with an insurance adjuster, they may charge you a lower fee. You can expect a higher contingency fee if your lawyer has to file a personal injury lawsuit. The closer your case gets to trial, the more effort an attorney puts into the matter and the higher the likelihood of a higher contingency fee.

In addition to the attorney’s fee, the lawyer may deduct the following legal costs:

  • Expert witness fees
  • Deposition costs
  • Court fees, including the filing fees, serving costs, and obtaining a copy of the transcript
  • Administrative expenses
  • Investigators
  • Costs of obtaining medical records and police reports

Why Is My Settlement Check Taking So Long?

Although it shouldn’t take so long to get your check after signing a release, several points in the settlement and payment process can cause delays, including:

  • Bank Delays: Banks sometimes hold large sums of money for a few days as they confirm the legitimacy of the deposit. However, a bank can only hold your money for a ‘reasonable amount’ of time.
  • Processing Medical Liens: Unexpected delays occur during the processing of liens since some medical payments involve government providers who may execute requests at a slower pace than private insurers.
  • Bank Holidays and Weekends: During weekends and holidays, the banks usually close, putting the ability to process payments on hold. Suppose an attorney received your settlement check on Thursday past working hours, and there’s a bank holiday on Friday. In that case, they may commence processing the settlement check on Monday of the following week.

Get Legal Assistance From an Experienced New Jersey Personal Injury Attorney

When a victim signs a release form, it is a positive sign of recovery from injury-related losses. However, delays in getting a settlement check can worsen the quality of life because of mounting medical bills and reduced productivity.

Working with an experienced attorney like Varcadipane & Pinnisi, P.C. increases your chances of obtaining a check with minimal hurdles. Contact us online for a free consultation.

Dawn M. Pinnisi

Dawn M. Pinnisi is a distinguished attorney with a track record of excellence in advocating for victims of injury and negligence. Dawn is a Founding Partner of the Firm, a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and has been awarded by the National Trial Lawyers.

University: J.D. Brooklyn Law School

Bar Number: 33771999

Locations: New Jersey and New York.

This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partners, Varcadipane & Pinnisi, who have more than 40 years of combined legal experience as personal injury attorneys.

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