You might be wondering how long it will take to receive your check after your personal injury case settles. Getting a personal injury settlement check in Miami generally takes four to six weeks. That is only an average, however. The time it takes to receive a personal injury settlement check depends on so many factors that an average is almost meaningless. You will need a lawyer to estimate the time it will take you to receive your compensation, and even then, the estimate will not be certain.
You also need to consider the possibility that the opposing party will not settle with you at the bargaining table, and you will have to go to court. It will take much longer to receive your money if you have to go to court. A jury verdict could take months or even years. Fortunately, most personal injury cases are settled out of court.
How Long Does it Take for a Case to Settle?
If the opposing party is stubborn enough, you may have no choice but to file a lawsuit. Even in cases where the victim files a lawsuit, however, the case usually ends in settlement sooner or later. But cases that make it to court via a lawsuit will usually take longer.
Florida civil courts require personal injury litigants to attend mediation, where a trained third-party mediator attempts to help the parties settle their claim. Although a mediator cannot compel either party to accept a settlement, you could harm your claim if the judge perceives you as unreasonable or stubborn. Nevertheless, a skilled mediator can expedite a settlement.
Using Pretrial Discovery as a Means of Pressuring the Opposing Party to Settle
You need evidence to win at the negotiating table just as much as you do in court. In many cases, however, much of the relevant evidence is in the defendant’s possession (medical malpractice claims, for example).
Once you file a lawsuit, however, you can use the pretrial discovery process to demand evidence from the defendant in the form of:
- Depositions (sworn oral testimony);
- Interrogatories (sworn written testimony);
- Requests for production (demands for access to documents and other tangible evidence such as medical records); and
- Requests for admissions.
At the end of the pretrial discovery process, you might have enough solid evidence to demand immediate settlement from the opposing party. The stronger your evidence, the greater your leverage will be.
Factors That Can Delay Settlement
The following factors, among others, can delay a settlement:
- Delay in reaching Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). Reaching MMI helps you determine the value of your claim.
- The at-fault party lacks the resources to pay your claim (this is particularly likely in large Florida car accident claims).
- You are claiming a large amount of non-economic damages, which will encourage the opposing party to fight hard to reduce or deny your claim and to employ various delay tactics.
Many other factors can delay settlement.
How Do I Become Apprised of my Settlement Check’s Progress?
Your best bet is to rely on your lawyer to track your settlement check. After you settle, the process of issuing a settlement check works something like this:
- A settlement agreement is drafted and signed by both parties. It is best if your lawyer drafts the settlement agreement.
- The insurance company signs a settlement check and forwards it to your lawyer.
- Your lawyer puts the funds into an escrow account and deducts any appropriate amounts. For example, you might have agreed to a medical lien on your settlement.
- Your lawyer deducts legal fees and other expenses (court fees, for example) from the settlement amount.
- Your lawyer writes you a check for the remainder of the settlement amount.
- Your lawyer sends the check to you via bank-to-bank transfer and notifies you that your settlement has arrived.
A reputable personal injury lawyer should not keep you in the dark about the status of your check and should be available for you to contact at your convenience.
A Lawyer Can Make All the Difference
Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer can affect many aspects of your case, including how quickly you receive your compensation. Receiving your settlement check quickly can be critical if you have medical bills to pay or if you took a lot of time off work. A lawyer can help ensure the opposing party doesn’t take advantage of your need to receive money quickly.