No two cases are exactly the same, but one thing about our clients is nearly universal: the smiles on their faces when their cases are settled. Jerry, one of our recent clients, said, “I’m happy. I got a great big smile!” Great big smiles like Jerry’s are a sight we love to see. People naturally feel a sense of relief when their claim settles. But reaching a settlement agreement is not quite the end of the road for someone in a personal injury case. What’s the next step for people like Jerry? What happens after a successful settlement?
How are settlements paid out?
After a settlement agreement is reached, it takes a few weeks for the paperwork to be processed and a check to be written. Before the check can be issued, you will need to sign a release of liability that waives your rights to make a claim in the future regarding this same accident or injury. You are agreeing to give up your claim in exchange for the agreed upon amount of money.
In personal injury cases, usually, the settlement check will be coming from the insurance company. When the settlement check arrives, it is typically made out to you and your lawyer. You will both need to endorse the check for it to be deposited into a trust account designated for these types of checks. Checks will then be issued from that account to you for your portion of the settlement, to your lawyers for their portion, and to any third parties that need payment in relation to your case.
Do I have to pay medical bills from my settlement?
In short, yes. Though the settlement agreement may not specifically outline how much of the money is meant to be used for medical bills, you will need to pay any outstanding medical bills related to your accident from the settlement amount. Although many aspects of your life may have been affected one of the purposes of your settlement is to cover the expenses incurred when seeking medical attention for your injuries. The bills may be from doctors, chiropractors, other practitioners, or even insurance companies.
In fact, medical bills paid by your health insurance are often entitled to a personal injury lien. That means that the insurance company will be reimbursed for the amount paid on your medical bills if you get a personal injury settlement. In some states, medical providers use similar liens that give them a right to payment from your settlement to cover any unpaid bills you have with them. If you’re in an accident and a provider asks you to sign such an agreement, consult with your lawyer.
Can I negotiate medical bills after settlement?
The short answer to this question is also yes. Sometimes the medical bills accrued from a personal injury case are high relative to the settlement amount you receive. In these instances, your personal injury lawyer will negotiate in order to get medical bills reduced so that all bills will be covered and your portion of the settlement will be greater. Doctors are often willing to negotiate a reduction in their bills to leave you a reasonable amount.
Negotiating a reduction in medical bills can be complicated. Your lawyer is on your team and can help you with this process. As our client, Ana Medina explained, our job is to try and get you as much compensation for your personal injury as possible. We want to be sure that a fair portion of the settlement ends up in your pocket.
Will my lawyers help me?
Your lawyers are there for you from beginning to end. The earlier you contact us following your injury, the more guidance we are able to offer throughout the process so we can ensure that things go smoothly in the end when your settlement check is received. We want to see a great big smile on your face when settlement is complete.