How Long After Settlement Before I Get Paid?

If you’re just about to settle your case (or if you already have) you’re probably wondering when you’ll actually be paid. The typical lawyer answer is “it depends,” which is true, but I’m going to tell you what “it” depends on, and how long “it” usually takes. There are delays which happen before your attorney gets the settlement check and delays which happen after your attorney gets the settlement check. Some of these are unavoidable, but some are not — and some can be mitigated.

Getting Paid After Settlement — Delays Getting the Check From the Insurer

The first delay you will likely encounter in getting paid after your settlement is the time it takes the defendant’s insurer to issue the settlement check. Florida has a specific statute addressing this issue, Fla.Stat. §627.4265, which reads as follows:

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In any case in which a person and an insurer have agreed in writing to the settlement of a claim, the insurer shall tender payment according to the terms of the agreement no later than 20 days after such settlement is reached. The tender of payment may be conditioned upon execution by such person of a release mutually agreeable to the insurer and the claimant, but if the payment is not tendered within 20 days, or such other date as the agreement may provide, it shall bear interest at a rate of 12 percent per year from the date of the agreement; however, if the tender of payment is conditioned upon the execution of a release, the interest shall not begin to accrue until the executed release is tendered to the insurer.

This sounds great in theory: if the insurer doesn’t pay up within 20 days of settlement, they have to add substantial interest to the settlement. However, did you spot the two loopholes in this statute? First, the agreement must be in writing. This is a relatively minor loophole, as most attorneys know enough to reduce an oral settlement agreement to writing (through letters confirming the agreement, usually). The second loophole, however, is more problematic. It states that if the insurer requires a release as part of the settlement — which they all do — interest won’t begin to accrue until the executed release is tendered to the insurer. Here’s where problems arise. How much time does the defense attorney or insurance company have to send you a release? No deadline is mentioned. If changes need to be made to the release, how long do they have to accept or reject those changes? Again, no deadline. Conditioning the accrual of interest on the execution of a release allows for needless delays while the insurer drags its feet drafting an acceptable release. So, what is a plaintiff to do?

Whether or not your state has a statute like Florida’s, it would be a good idea to include a deadline for the delivery of an acceptable release in your settlement agreement. You could agree that the defendant shall issue you an initial proposed release within 5 business days of the settlement, with the final version being agreed upon no later than 7 business days thereafter (otherwise the settlement is void). This way, you can be sure that the insurer will issue your check within 20 days of settlement. If you sense that your case is getting close to settling, you may want to suggest this to your lawyer. If your state doesn’t have a statutory deadline for issuing the check, you can make that deadline part of the agreement as well. I have had cases where the insurer offered to expedite the check (payment within 24-48 hours) just to sweeten the pot. A little forethought before you agree to a settlement can save you needless delays afterwards.

Getting Paid After Settlement — Delays After Your Lawyer Gets the Settlement Check

There is one large and unavoidable delay you (and your lawyer) have to deal with after her receives the settlement check. It must be deposited into and clear his “trust account” before he can pay you. Trust accounts are required by state bar associations, and the interest which accrues on deposits in trust accounts usually goes towards legal aid services for the poor — it definitely does not go to your lawyer. Your lawyer wants your check to clear his trust account just as badly as you do, as he does not get paid until it clears, either. Settlement checks can take 10 business days to clear some trust accounts, unless they are issued by the same bank as the trust account, or if they are cashier’s checks (which is extremely rare). This is one delay you’re just going to have to endure. Ask your attorney’s office manager how long checks take to clear their trust account to get a more precise estimate of the delay.

Another delay which comes up after your lawyer gets the settlement check is the payment of your medical and insurance liens. There can be delays in doctors and insurers sending “final balance due” statements (although hopefully you had a good idea of what was owed before you settled). If Medicare or Medicaid paid any of your medical bills, they can be notoriously slow in delivering final balance statements.

Settlement tip

There can also be delays as your lawyer attempts to negotiate the settlement of these liens and bills (yes, you can often pay less than is owed) so you get more money. If the full amount of your liens and bills exceeds your portion of the settlement (after attorney’s fees and costs), your lawyer will have to finish these negotiations with your lienholders before you get paid anything. If the full amount of your liens and medical bills is clearly less than your portion of the settlement, I suggest that you ask your lawyer for a “partial distribution” from his trust account (after the check clears, of course). When a lawyer makes a partial distribution, he holds an amount which would clearly cover all outstanding liens in his trust account and pays you the balance of your portion of the settlement. If he negotiates the liens down afterward, he pays you the rest in a second distribution. Here are two examples to illustrate:

  • Example One: Jim settles his car accident case for policy limits of $10,000.00. His total outstanding medical liens are $6,500.00. In this case, Jim couldn’t get a partial distribution because his portion of the settlement, assuming a 40% attorney fee, is $6,000.00 — less than the full amount of his medical bills. Jim will have to wait until his lawyer negotiates his medical bills down before being paid anything.
  • Example Two: Jill settles her car accident case for $100,000.00. Her outstanding medical liens are $20,000.00. Again assuming a 40% attorney fee (I’m omitting the attorney’s costs for simplicity), Jill could ask her lawyer for a partial distribution of $40,000.00 ($60,000.00 client portion minus $20,000.00 in liens) and then later receive another distribution of the balance after her liens are negotiated down.

These are the most common delays in getting paid after settlement. However, there are always unusual circumstances, such as bankruptcy, divorce, and even sometimes problems with the defendant’s check clearing, which can affect your settlement. If you are experiencing unusual delays in getting paid beyond those I’ve described, you should address them with your lawyer. For the usual delays, you’ll just have to be patient.

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372 Responses to How Long After Settlement Before I Get Paid?

  1. Ron says:

    I agreed to a settlement on 9/20/2011, and I signed the settlement papers 10/13/2011. The state arbitrator recieved the settlement papers on 10/21/2011. How long until I recieve a check?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Without knowing what state you’re in, the nature of the claim and whether it was it against a private or governmental defendant, I could only speculate. 30 days is a standard turn-around time to get a settlement check, but other factors can come into play. For example, some government agencies only cut settlement checks once or twice a month. So if you miss the date in the current month, you must wait until the following month for it to cut your check. Using your case as an example, if settlement checks are cut on the 20th of every month, your check wouldn’t be cut until 11/20/11.

      The only truly safe way to know when you’ll be paid is to make the payment date part of your settlement (e.g., defendant will pay by “X” date or within 20 days of receiving the signed settlement agreement).

  2. Jim says:

    Our lawyer (who we can only reach on Friday’s – if we are lucky) said through his legal assistant that the settlement check is “on the judge’s desk.”
    What does this mean? Does this mean we will have to wait for one of the days the judge signs settlement checks?
    We signed papers in September and then somewhere along the lines, they finally got to the judges desk in October.
    There was a stipulation of late fees and interest – is there any hope of these actually being paid (this is in writing – but the dates of when and where and who did what when are all over the place).
    We apparently chose the Settlement Settle-King of Southern California.
    We thought that this would all be over in September when my wife with to the courthouse for a day with our newborn- didn’t go into the courtroom – and was told by the lawyer that this is what they are only willing to give us because of x, y, & z. The reasons were kind of lame and seemed like he wasn’t as interested in my wife’s case as he was just settling. This was in September and it is now approaching December.
    Is this normal? Do you think we chose a lousy lawyer? What is the check doing on the judges desk … for so long – doesn’t he realize that it is money that people could be using to support their families?!?!
    Any helpful information or guidance would be much appreciated.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Is this a workers’ comp case? Most personal injury cases don’t require judicial approval of settlements, but workers’ comp cases do. If you are stuck waiting on judicial approval, there’s not a whole lot that can be done to prompt a lazy judge to sign an order. Basically, your lawyer can pester the judge’s judicial assistant (JA), but if he does it too often, he may piss the judge off (who then may drag his heels on purpose). It’s not that the judge has to sign the check — he has to enter an order approving the settlement. Usually this is a ministerial function and shouldn’t hold you up for longer than a month.

      If this is a normal personal injury case (car accident or slip & fall) I have no idea why it would require a judge’s approval (usually this is only needed for certain settlements involving minor children). Have you tried checking your court clerk’s website to look at the docket for your case (some are free, some are not)? It should list the last thing filed (and the date of filing), so you can see if (or when) your settlement documents were filed and whether any action has been taken on them. If your clerk doesn’t have this information online, you should be able to check in person at his office.

      With respect to late fees and interest, these may not be applicable if the judge is responsible for the delay in payment. If judicial approval is required, any sane insurer will wait for that approval before cutting a check.

      I can’t really comment on your lawyer’s performance or his suggestion to settle for the amount offered. I don’t have all the information he had and it would just be inappropriate. Of course, if your wife already signed off on the settlement, it’s a little late now to get a second opinion. If you’re in need of this settlement money now, it may have been a better move to take a lower settlement rather than to wait for a trial in the hopes of getting more. Only you and your lawyer will know that.

  3. MISSOURI66 says:

    I signed my settlement papers on Nov 28th with a Utica mohawk clause in it, I also have open medical for life. I did receive a $ amount with this settlement, I was just wondering how long it will take too receive the check? I signed on Nov 28th and as of Yesterday Dec 13th the Stip still had not been signed by Judge. So what could be going on with that? I am in the state of Missouri..

    • fl_litig8r says:

      First, my usual disclaimer: I am not, nor have I ever been, a workers’ comp lawyer. Nor am I a Missouri lawyer. That being said, different courts and different judges move at different speeds. Even though both parties agreed to the settlement, workers comp judges still need to review and approve them. Some are slower than others at getting around to that. I have had stipulations sit in a judge’s chambers for months before an order on them was signed (in personal injury cases, not comp). I hope your judge is more efficient than that.

      There’s not a whole lot you or your lawyer can do to speed up the judge signing off on your stipulation. A friendly reminder call to his judicial assistant (by your lawyer’s office, not you) might help. More than one call like this may get your stip moved to the bottom of the judge’s in box, so discretion should be used. If it takes more than 30 days to get this signed, and you don’t have a lawyer, a very polite call to the judge’s office to “check the status of the stip” may prompt some action.

      If you have a comp lawyer, he’ll know far better than I do how fast thing move in your local court. If you don’t have a lawyer, you could take a shot at calling a local comp firm or two to see if they will answer one or two questions for you (How long does it typically take a judge to sign a stip? and How long after that before you should expect your check?). They may answer you just to generate some goodwill (and possibly have you refer your friends to them in the future).

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful on this, but workers comp is not my area of expertise.

  4. Nancy says:

    I agreed over the phone with my attorney on an amount for a fall at a grocery store 2 years ago that caused a head injury . I was called to come in and sign the release papers and at that time saw an brain MRI report that i had never seen. In this report there were abnormal findings and a recommendation for another type study. I had called the Dr when the MRI was done and was told nothing abnormal was found.
    I told the attorney I needed to talk with the Dr about what the findings mean. The attorney told me that the check had already been deposited in his tyrust account..
    How was it cashed before I signed a release.Would the check have been made out to just the attorney and not also to me?
    If I have not signed anything is the verbal agreement with the attorney binding??
    Was it improper of him to cash the check before I signed the release?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      If you agreed to the settlement (even verbally), I don’t see a problem with your lawyer depositing the check in his trust account, even before the release is signed (as long as he didn’t disburse the money to you before you signed). Normally, insurance companies make the check payable to both the lawyer and the client (requiring both to endorse it) but I have received checks that were payable only to the firm’s trust account — sometimes I would ask for this if the client was far away, to avoid the delay in having to send the check back and forth.

      I doubt that you’ll be able to get out of this settlement agreement. I’d have a long talk with the doctor who didn’t tell you about the abnormal MRI findings. I’d say he bears the blame for this situation, not your lawyer.

  5. MISSOURI66 says:

    I here it is the 19th of December and I signed settlement papers on Nov 28th an still No Check too my Attorney an No call about anything too me since Dec 2nd about signing a thing for them to sign my name to check when they receive it!! Oh i am getting so depressed now!!!! Blah..-

  6. Ann says:

    I was in a car accident and my daughter was with me, she needed therapy for months after. I was unemployed and had medicaid pay for the therapy. I was told over 4 months ago that that we could settle in 4-6 weeks. The insurance adjuster says she is waiting for a response from medicaid on how much they want. How long should I wait for a response from medicaid or is she just giving me the run around.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I can’t be sure, but I doubt that the insurer is jerking you around. Waiting for medicaid and medicare subrogation information is extremely frustrating, even for lawyers. They are both notoriously slow, which is surprising considering that the longer it takes them to get you their lien info, the longer it takes for them to get their money back. You could try contacting medicaid yourself to try to speed the process along, and to confirm that they haven’t already provided the information to the insurer.

      When I had a client with a medicaid or medicare lien that was holding up disbursing her settlement funds, I’d usually do a partial distribution of the settlement and hold back an amount I knew would be more than sufficient to cover the lien. Then, when the final lien info finally came in, I’d pay it and do a second distribution to the client of whatever amount was left over.

      In your case, if you’re dealing directly with the liability insurer, it may not be willing to do this. However, it’s worth discussing this as an option with the adjuster. For example, if your settlement is for $50,000.00 and you know (from medical bills) that the medicaid lien couldn’t possibly be more than $5,000.00, have them hold back $5,000.00 (or even $6,000.00, to be extra cautious) and pay you $45,000.00. When the lien is finally settled, they can cut you a check for the rest. The insurer may not want to risk underestimating the lien, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

  7. christina says:

    I was at a signal and was hit by a car. I paid all of my medical bills as they occured. I live in California. I hired an attorney and signed the settlement papers on December 30, 2011. When Can I expect the check? Is there a law in California like Florida where once you settle and sign the papers you must be paid within a certain amount of days? Please advise. Thank you

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I don’t know if California has a law similar to Florida’s requiring interest on settlement checks after 21 days. I did some quick research which didn’t reveal anything, but your own lawyer would know far better than I if such a provision exists. Keep in mind that the settlement check will be sent to your lawyer for deposit into his trust account. It will have to clear the trust account before your lawyer can pay you. In Florida, that takes around 10 business days. It may be shorter in California. Check with your lawyer’s office to see if they’ve gotten the check yet. You probably don’t need to talk with your lawyer to get this answer. His paralegal or office manager should be able to tell you. They can also tell you how long the check will take to clear their trust account.

      Sorry I couldn’t give you a more definite answer on the time limit issue. I’m not a California lawyer, so just because I can’t find a statute or regulation relating to this issue doesn’t mean that one doesn’t exist. If your lawyer answers this question for you, please come back and post a follow-up comment with his answer to help future readers who may have the same question.

      • christina says:

        Thank you very much for your insight, I just reached out to my attorney who advised he has not received the check, he agrees we should have received payment by now, and he will reach out to the other attorney today to find out what the hold up is. Thank you very much!

        • christina says:

          I am following up on my first post of when can I expect to be paid. I reached out to my attorney regarding when can I expect payment, and received an e-mail from him that he apparently has a tax lein against him and the insurance company will not release the funds with out the IRS on the check? Is this even legal? why am I being penalized as a result of his tax issues. Do I have any recourse? this is turning out to be a nightmare. My attorney will check with the IRS on Monday however I am shocked they will not release my funds as I do not have any tax issues. Any advice on your end?

          • fl_litig8r says:

            Yikes! I’ve never heard of such a thing, so I really can’t say if requiring the IRS to be on the check is legal. I can see why the insurance company would want to require it, as the check contains money which, in part, will go to your lawyer (he deposits the check in his trust account, then pays both himself and you from that account). I have heard of cases where insurers have required that certain hospitals be listed on a check if that hospital has a lien on the plaintiff, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this was legal (even though it is the lawyer, and not the party, who has the lien issue). Insurers have been burned in the past where they made payments to someone who had a lien (which the insurer knew about) without doing anything to protect the lienholder’s interests — if the plaintiff then failed to pay the lien, the lienholder would sue the insurer (who then wound up having to pay twice!).

            It really sucks that your payment is being delayed due to your lawyer’s tax issues. I hope this issue gets resolved quickly.

  8. christina says:

    Thanks for your feedback I will let you know the end result. At this point I will wait to hear back from my attorney to see what he finds out on Monday.

  9. Marilyn says:

    I SIGNED SETTLEMENT PAPERS ON DECEMBER 28TH, 2011. I LIVE IN NYC AND STILL HAVEN’T RECEIVED MY CHECK YET, HOW LONG AM I SUPPOSE TO WAIT? AND DO I NEED A JUDGE SIGNATURE? ALSO AM I ENTITLED TO A COPY OF THE FOLLOWING: SETTLEMENT CHECK & A RECEIPT FOR THE MEDICAL LIEN THAT ARE DUE TO BE PAID?
    THE CASE IS AGAINST NYCHA, PLEASE HELP!

    • fl_litig8r says:

      First, a disclaimer: I am not a New York lawyer and all the information I provide here is just from my own quick research into New York law to answer these questions for you. It shouldn’t be accepted as legal advice and if your own lawyer contradicts me, he’s probably right. If this is a personal injury case (not workers comp) for an adult, then you don’t require a judge to sign off on your settlement. Pursuant to New York State law C.P.L.R. § 5003-a(b), the city must send the settlement check within 90 days of the date the settlement paperwork — assuming it was prepared properly and addresses outstanding liens — was tendered (received by certified mail or hand delivery). If you had sued a private company, it would have been only 21 days. Government agencies often get more time to respond to things in a lawsuit than private defendants. After the 90 days, if your lawyer hasn’t received the check yet, he can immediately file for a judgment based on the settlement, at which time interest starts accruing and you can execute against the assets of the defendant.

      You can certainly request that your lawyer make you a copy of the settlement check (this is pretty common). It is likely that the check will be made payable to you and your attorney jointly, so you can get a copy of the check when you go to your attorney’s office to endorse it. Your attorney should provide you with an accounting statement which lists (among other things) the amounts from the settlement which are being used to satisfy your liens. You can also ask your attorney to see the lienholder’s agreement to accept the amount listed on the settlement statement (and get a copy of the letter for your own records).

      Keep in mind that it can take up to 10 business days for a settlement check to clear your lawyer’s trust account before you, your lawyer, and your lienholders can be paid from it.

  10. mark says:

    what happens if a insurer company goes into bankrupt and cant pay any of your claims

    • fl_litig8r says:

      You have to file a timely claim with the bankruptcy court in order to preserve any part of your claim. The trustee of the bankrupt estate then handles claim settlement, which can result in plaintiffs getting pennies on the dollar or even nothing, depending on the number of creditors who have priority over your claim and the amounts owed to them. If it’s any consolation, I represented a client years ago against Winn-Dixie, who was self-insured and in bankruptcy at the time, and managed to get a fair recovery (about the same amount I’d expect from a non-bankrupt defendant). So, all hope is not necessarily lost just because of bankruptcy. You really need to have an attorney handle this for you. Bankruptcy makes your claim way too complicated for the vast majority of non-lawyers (and even some lawyers) to handle.

      • mark says:

        thanks for your advice i have been in that accident for now 10 years and at the time the insurance company was not bankrupt in september 2011 the judge gave a settlement to to paid out but now my attorneys say they cant cause of bankruptcy now my attorneys is going to sue the owner of the car that was wrong in the accident to pay the claim,and they have not yet, it has been now 6 months the judge gave her rule and there is no yet payment its been years 10 years since this accident i need help to know how to get out of this and get my claim

        • fl_litig8r says:

          I’m a bit confused by the facts you set out. From what I gather, you were hurt in an accident 10 years ago and at some point after that you settled with the at-fault driver’s insurer, which then filed for bankruptcy.

          What isn’t clear to me is:

          1. Did you file a claim with the bankruptcy court?
          2. If yes, were there insufficient funds from the bankruptcy to recover anything from your settlement?
          3. When did your lawyer sue the at-fault driver?
          4. Are you saying that you settled with or received a judgment against the at-fault driver?
          5. If yes, when was that settlement/judgment entered? 6 months ago?

          If you are trying to collect on a judgment against the driver personally, it could be a while before you get paid, if ever. Your lawyer has to collect against the personal assets of the driver, which could be inadequate to cover your judgment. Certain types of assets and income are not subject to execution to satisfy judgments. For example, in my home state of Florida, a tortfeasor’s primary residence, no matter how much it is worth, cannot be seized to satisfy a personal injury judgment.

          Your lawyer may have to file what’s known as “proceedings supplementary to execution”, which is an action to discover what assets the driver may have from which you can satisfy your judgment. It can take a few months before your lawyer can even locate assets or income to seize on your behalf. If the driver is employed, your lawyer may be able to have his wages garnished, but that will take a long time to pay any judgment of significance.

          • mark says:

            i was injured really bad in a car accident in 2003, i receive a judgement after a long case which the insurance attorneys defended the driver through out the whole case which took 10 years they’the driver insurance attorney’, even offer a small amount of cash to pay me before i gave my testimony i refused that offer,i was ask me alot of questions by the attorney when i was in the box,after that trial i waited a few months for the judge to rule,an amount of cash was ordered to paid for my injures no i did not file a claim with the bankruptcy court and no the lawyers did not sue the at fault driver as yet which they been telling me gave some compassion to him because he didnt know he himself have to pay the cash but it been six months now the judge gave her rule and they my attorneys have been sending him a notice for a while now and he have not respond to any it i thank you so much for your advice i was so young at the time of the accident and really didnt know anything thank you i was in the car trap the driver left the scene he didnt even came to assist iam lucky to be alive

          • fl_litig8r says:

            That clears some things up. It sounds like you already have a judgment against the driver from the initial lawsuit. I was concerned that if a lawsuit hadn’t been filed yet that the statute of limitations had run — but it looks like you’re safe in that regard. I am a bit concerned as to why your lawyers wouldn’t have initially sought recovery through the bankruptcy court. You may have only been able to recover pennies on the dollar from the insurer, but it’s better than nothing and you’d still be able to go after the driver directly for the amount you couldn’t get from the insurer.

            It sounds like the driver may be ignoring your lawyer’s attempts to discover his assets. Your lawyer will have to ask the court to compel answers from the driver if that’s the case. This can take some time (though 6 months seems a bit long). You should probably set up a face-to-face meeting with your lawyer to have him explain to you in plain English what he’s doing to try to satisfy the judgment, as it sounds like you’re not sure. Executing on a judgment against an individual defendant can be complicated, so don’t be ashamed to tell your lawyer if you didn’t fully understand his previous explanation as to what’s going on. You’re better off making him explain it again than you are remaining confused and frustrated at the lack of progress.

  11. I hate the judiciary says:

    I have a civil suit that spread over 14 years against a state. Signed a release for a pitiful, oh-my-god I’m going to kill myself, lowball settlement…and have now waited 25 days.

    What course of action do I have now? Any?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      If you tell me what state you’re in, I may be able to find out if there’s a statute governing the time your state has to send the settlement check. For example, in New York, state and local governments have to send the check within 90 days of receiving the appropriate settlement paperwork (as I told Marilyn in another comment under this article). Your state may or may not have a similar provision.

  12. Nicole says:

    I am part of a class action lawsuit against a company in Ky. The judge signed off the final distribution plan on Dec 20th, 2011 and we recieved letters that the settlement checks were expected to be mailed by Jan 31, 2012. No Checks yet, the recording on the 1 800 number we were given to call has changed from Jan 31st to some time soon but no date is given. If you call and speak to a customer service rep. they state they have no informaton at this time. Any idea how long distribution of settlement checks can take and if there is anything that can be done to speed up the process? Thanks Nicole

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I doubt that there’s anything you can do at this point to speed things up. It sounds like they ran into logistical issues with verifying and issuing a large number of checks. I doubt that this would hold things up for very long, so I’d expect you to get your check by the end of the month. Of course, at this point you have more information than I do.

  13. Marie says:

    My attorney has withdrawn from my case and is very unprofessional. I expect for there to be intentional delays in receiving my settlement. Does the money still go directly to them to distribute even though they chose to withdraw prior to the settlement?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Let me see if I have the facts straight before I take a stab at an answer. Did your case reach a final settlement agreement before your attorney withdrew? Did your attorney voluntarily withdraw, or did he withdraw because you fired him? If he voluntarily withdrew, do you expect him to claim that your conduct “forced him to withdraw”? It really seems odd for a lawyer to voluntarily withdraw after a settlement, as he may lose any right to his fee. Also, what state are you in, as ethics rules can vary from state to state.

      • Marie says:

        The case is pending settlement if I do not get a new lawyer. The attorney voluntarily withdrew stating a false reason in the motion which does make it seem like it was because of me. The settlement came about after they withdrew. The state is MI. And believe me odd is the theme for what I’m dealing with.

        • fl_litig8r says:

          Disclaimer: I am not a Michigan attorney and not your attorney. You should not consider this legal advice.

          From my own look into the Michigan attorney ethics rules and some underlying caselaw, here is how I believe this will play out:

          1. By withdrawing, your attorney has given up the right to be compensated on the percentage basis stated in the contingency fee agreement.
          2. He can recover his fees on a quantum meruit basis (a reasonable fee based on the work performed, usually determined on an hourly rate basis) if he was discharged or withdrew for good cause. “There is good cause for an attorney to withdraw from a suit if there has been a complete breakdown in the attorney-client relationship. But a client’s rational refusal to settle can never be sufficient grounds to constitute good cause for an attorney to withdraw.” Combs v. Dishluk (pdf warning – see p.5 for the cited section).
          3. He cannot recover any fee (even quantum meruit) if he withdrew without good cause or his misconduct (usually meaning an ethics rule violation) led to the breakdown of the attorney-client relationship.
          4. If he intends to pursue a fee, he needs to assert a “charging lien.” This lien would apply only to proceeds from the lawsuit, and not to any other personal assets or money you have. This can be done in the court record. He must notify the liability insurance company of his lien prior to them paying you any settlement funds.
          5. If he asserts a charging lien and you wish to dispute it, the usual course of action would be for the insurance company to pay the settlement funds into the court through a procedure known as “interpleader” (this is used when someone agrees that they owe funds, but two or more parties have a dispute as to who is entitled to the funds — interpleader lets the paying party hand the money over to the court and avoid being tied up in the other parties’ dispute). The court would then determine whether your lawyer is entitled to quantum meruit fees, and if so, how much. The court would then disburse the settlement funds in accordance with its ruling (assuming no timely appeals are filed).

          So, my opinion is that the insurer should definitely not send the check to your now-former lawyer. If your lawyer doesn’t assert a charging lien, you get the full check (you’ll still have to pay your medical liens). If your lawyer does assert a charging lien, and you dispute his entitlement to a fee or the amount claimed, the insurer should interplead the money with the court, and the court should decide the fee entitlement issue.

          Aside from fees, you may owe your attorney his costs, which are a separate matter. Usually your fee contract will state how costs are to be handled in the event of withdrawal.

          Prepare yourself for things to possibly get more “odd” in your case.

          • Marie says:

            That information is very helpful. Thank you. Here is more “oddness” for you: My previous attorney entered into settlement without my consent which sent the defendant through the process of having the amout approved by their adjuster. To my knowledge there has not been any checks sent and no confirmation from my old attorney to accept. The defendant is ready to move forward with this amount on the table that is not satisfactory to me. Will your $10 plan help me in this case to negotiate a higher settlement? There is another defendant in the case who I have yet to negotiate with also.

          • fl_litig8r says:

            Sorry, but my $10 tip won’t work for people who are currently representing themselves (pro se). If your attorney withdrew (and the court approved the withdrawal) he should notify the insurer that he no longer represents you. The insurer won’t speak directly to you while they think you have a lawyer.

            Sounds like you need to call them to see if they are aware of the situation and the fact that your lawyer made a settlement offer without your approval.

  14. Marie says:

    Thanks again. One last question. Do I have the right to ask the insurance adjuster what the policy limit is?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Sure, it’s always the “one last question” that gets you. I spent well over an hour looking for the answer to this and I’m sorry to say I came up empty. I couldn’t find a Michigan statute which requires disclosure of auto liability limits (my state of Florida has one that does) or any discussion of this issue other than sites which recommend you demand policy limit information (with no indication of whether such demand is backed up by any legal authority in Michigan). My suggestion at this point would be to either call some random Michigan personal injury lawyer to see if he can give you a quick answer, or maybe try the Michigan Dept of Insurance. If you get an answer, I’d appreciate it if you’d come back and post it here.

      • Marie says:

        I’m back. I do not have an answer to the policy limit question unfortunately. I do have a question about charging liens. How can I tell if the lien has been put in place? My old attorney is trying to change the cost amount even thought I know what terms the cost should be based upon because it is in writing. I have not been told what that number is yet. I have received once check with both of our names on it and I want to know what I am able to do if no charging lien is in place?

        • fl_litig8r says:

          A charging lien should be perfected by your lawyer filing notice of it in your case with the court. Most often, it will be a document entitled “Notice of Attorney Charging Lien” or something to that effect. Whether the court filing is required, or merely notice to the relevant parties (in your case, the liability insurer) will vary from state to state — some states have statutes which govern charging liens and some are granted via common law (caselaw).

          If your clerk of court has its docket online, you can check the docket for your case to see if your lawyer filed a notice of lien. If not, you’d have to go to the clerk’s office (bring your case number) to review the case’s docket in person.

          If your lawyer didn’t file a notice of his lien in your case, I’d tell the insurer to re-issue the check in your name only and inform it that your lawyer withdrew prior to settlement and no charging lien was filed. It may tell you that it received a notice of lien directly from your lawyer, in which case it probably won’t re-issue the check in your name only (if it has valid notice of a charging lien and issues the check to you alone, your former lawyer may be able to sue it for the asserted fees, even though it already paid the full settlement amount to you).

          If your lawyer did assert a lien, it gets tricky. I wouldn’t endorse the check and give it to your lawyer while the fees are in dispute. Ideally, you would file a motion with the court asking it to rule that your former lawyer’s lien is invalid due to his withdrawal being without good cause. A hearing would need to be held to determine whether the circumstances of his withdrawal entitle him to still recover a fee, and if so, how much. Obviously, this would be tough for you, as a lay person, to do on your own. You may also have to interplead the settlement check with the court while it makes its determination (it would then pay out the money in accordance with its ruling).

          Keep in mind that even if your lawyer didn’t perfect his charging lien, he could still potentially sue you for breach of contract over a fee dispute. The charging lien only secures the settlement funds (prevents them from being paid directly to you). Failure to file one doesn’t invalidate your fee contract. A breach of contract case would hinge on whether the lawyer’s withdrawal was under circumstances that still entitle him to be paid.

          Before you start worrying about all of that, check to see if your lawyer filed the notice of lien with the court and see if the insurer will re-issue the check. Let me know how that goes.

  15. Brittany says:

    I was in a car accident in oct. I live in ga. I dont understand why im waiting so long with my settlement. when i call my laywer all they say is we trying to get all the medical bills and getting numbers together. They been saying that for the past 3 months. I found out they trying to send my case and the other woman in the car case in together. After we told them not too How can i get them to speed the cases up?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      If your accident just happened in October, you may not be at maximum medical improvement (MMI). Have you stopped receiving medical treatment for your injuries? If you’re not at MMI yet, your case may not be ready for settlement. It’s not uncommon for a lawyer to wait at least 6 months after an accident before making a settlement offer, just to give time for your medical care to play itself out and give a better picture as to whether any injuries are permanent. During this time, lawyers usually just get updated medical records and billing information, as there’s little else they can do. Settling before you reach MMI risks shortchanging yourself, as you may not heal as well as expected.

      If your doctors have indicated that you’re at MMI, it could be that they are holding things up by not timely responding to your lawyer’s medical records requests. If you used health insurance to pay for your treatment, your health insurer could be the one that’s slow to respond to your lawyer. Your lawyer absolutely needs up to date billing and insurance lien information before making a settlement demand, so he knows how much to ask for. You could ask your lawyer’s office if there’s a particular medical provider holding up the works by not producing the records he’s requested, and if so, apply some pressure to that provider to produce the records.

      As to your lawyer trying to settle both yours and another woman’s claim (even from the same accident) at the same time, you are right to be upset about that. One claim should have no effect on the other, and they should both be dealt with on an individual basis.

  16. P says:

    Hi, I live in MD & was involved in a sexual harrassment suit against a company I worked for. I signed the final settlement papers on 2/13/12 & in the agreement it states that the company would issue me a check by 2/17/12. As of today I still haven’t received my check. They were also issuing 2 separate checks. 1 for my attorney, for his fees & 1 for me. I called my lawyer today to ask him if they sent my check yet & he said that the defendants lawyer forgot to put in a request for payment so now I have to wait another 1 to 2 weeks to get my check. Is this legal for them to do to me & do I have any legal recourse? Because I could swear that when we went to mediation, at the end when we reached an agreement, the judge told me they had 30 days in which to pay me. Thanks for any advice you can offer me.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Unless you want to try to get out of the settlement agreement due to the defendant’s failure to comply with the payment terms, it’s likely that the best you could hope for would be interest added to the late payment. Did your settlement agreement provide for interest if the payment was not issued on time? Even if it didn’t, it may be worth discussing this with your lawyer as a way to compensate you for the untimely payment (and apply pressure to the insurer to pay more quickly).

      Given the fact that your payment will only be 3 weeks late at most (assuming that the insurer pays as your attorney has indicated), interest may not amount to very much (unless you got a very large settlement) and may not be worth the effort of pursuing.

      I assume when you say that the “judge” said that they had 30 days to pay at the mediation, you really meant “the mediator” (of course, your mediator may have been a judge). He was probably referring to a standard time to pay for agreements which don’t explicitly set another date — which yours does. Your written agreement trumps what a mediator may have said about the payment schedule.

  17. P says:

    Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question. The settlement agreement did not specify for interest to be paid in the event that payment was late. When I said the judge said that, I did mean the mediator, my attorney told me she was also a judge. I was under the assumption that since she said the defendants had 30 days in which to pay me, they would stick to that. My attorney doesn’t seem to be as upset as I am, so I’m not sure if I want to bring up the idea of adding interest to the amount. If I would, do you know the amount of interest I would be able to collect in Maryland? I’ve looked all over the internet for information, but can’t seem to find anything. Again, thanks so much for taking the time to answer me. Have a great evening!!

    • fl_litig8r says:

      A mediator, even one who is also a judge, doesn’t have the power to overrule the terms of a settlement agreement made by the parties. I think she probably said the “30 day” thing out of habit, as most settlement agreements don’t provide a specific time for payment, and 30 days is pretty standard. Your written settlement agreement would certainly control, in this case.

      As far as interest, if your case was brought under state law (either whole or in part) I’d use Maryland’s post-judgment interest rate (the interest rate that would be applied if you won in court and obtained a judgment). It’s currently 10% per year. Here’s the Maryland Code provision which sets the rate (even though it says 2010, I confirmed that it hasn’t changed on Lexis).

      If your case was brought solely under federal law, you’d probably get stuck with the federal post-judgment interest rate, which is disgustingly low. Follow this link, then scroll down until you see the “1-year” line under “Treasury Constant Maturities”. Look across the table to find February 13, which shows an annual interest rate of .15%. Not 15%. It’s really .15% (in other words, not worth pursuing).

      If you’re a Facebook or Google+ user, a “like” or “+1″ for this article (buttons are at the bottom of the article, above the comments) would be appreciated. It helps others find my site, and I’m always looking for more viewers.

      • P says:

        Once again, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions!! It really does help me because I was unsure of what to do next. I agree with you that is a disgustingly low amount. Maybe if it were higher, they wouldn’t be so fast to play games with other people’s money. Thanks for the links!! I will +1 your article & FB like it for you also. Have a great night!!

  18. Jamie says:

    Hi I was in a car accident 1 year ago 2 day-I lives in Minnesota and was just wondering how long b4 I here anything about them settle my case-Iam still in therapy I’ve done took like 2 MRI and I’m just tired of the BS my lawyer putting me threw-he say well it takes a year b4 I can settle anything-please help thanks

    • fl_litig8r says:

      First, you may want to read this article, if you haven’t already. I know a lot of people think that their settlements are being held up by their lawyers, but often it’s really a matter of their lawyers waiting until their clients reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) before attempting a settlement. If you’re not at MMI yet (your doctors will determine this, not your lawyer), the full extent of your injuries and future treatment needs is unknown. Before you reach MMI, your doctor may try to predict the course of your recovery, but if he’s wrong and unexpected complications arise, you could wind up with much higher medical bills and more severe limitations than he anticipated. Once you’re at MMI, the guesswork is removed and you can be sure that you are settling for an adequate amount.

      Because you’ve had 2 MRIs, I assume that you are or were being considered for surgery. If you do need surgery, or just had surgery, you won’t be at MMI until you finish whatever post-surgery therapy is required. It can easily take over a year for a person to reach MMI, so you’re lawyer may just be waiting to get the “go ahead” from your doctor before making a settlement demand.

      Just as an example, say a person needs a rotator cuff repair surgery. Doctors know the general odds that the surgery will be successful and what limitations the person should face afterwards. However, sometimes these surgeries result in excess internal scar tissue forming, called adhesions, or even worse, a condition known as “frozen shoulder.” If you’re one of the unlucky people who develops such a complication, you may need additional surgery to correct it. So, if this hypothetical person’s lawyer settled her case before the surgery was done and the therapy completed, he would have settled it based on the incorrect assumption that everything would go as planned. Then his client would be pissed off because she didn’t get enough to pay for the additional surgery and treatment required due to the complications.

      In short, it’s better for your lawyer to be cautious and wait for you to reach MMI before attempting settlement. Otherwise, he risks settling for too little. It sucks, but it’s not your lawyer’s fault that you’re medical outcome is uncertain at this time. Be patient. Don’t shortchange yourself by trying to rush a settlement.

  19. Jamie says:

    K thanks so much for taking your time out 2 read and respond back/Well I turned down surgery I ain’t want that for my arm-I had torn tissue and my arm almost frozen up-that’s why I’m still in therapy a year later-but I’m not rushing anything,just asking a few ?thanks again

  20. Tiffany says:

    Hi, I was in an accident 2/28/11 and have not heard much from the attorneys office other than they are trying to get my medical bills taken care of. That’s fine but I live in Washington and was wondering what the chances are of getting a partial distribution? The settlement was for 50,000 and the lawyer fee is only like 33% I know my bills don’t exceed 5000 and they’ve already dealt with my insurance for 10,000. I’m not trying to money grub and hell I’d be happy with just 3,000 so I can pay my apartment and move. I just don’t know if Washington state has a different policy that would not allow me to get this partial distribution?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I’ve reviewed the Washington state bar ethics rules and advisory opinions and I see nothing which would prevent a partial distribution, assuming that there would clearly be adequate funds to satisfy all liens after the distribution is made.

      In fact, Washington state bar RPC 1.15A(f) states: “Except as stated in this Rule, a lawyer must promptly pay or deliver to the client or third person the property which the client or third person is entitled to receive.” So, basically, as long as the part of the settlement funds you request are not potentially owed to a third-party lienholder, your lawyer has an ethical obligation to make the partial distribution. If it’s clear that after attorney’s fees, costs and liens you will definitely get at least $3,000.00 from the settlement funds, ethically your lawyer should have no choice but to give you the money once you ask for it.

      It’s not money grubbing at all. You’re not asking for a loan or a hand out. If your lawyer is holding on to funds which you will clearly receive, no matter how the medical bills are resolved, there is no reason why he shouldn’t turn those funds over to you right now. It’s your money.

      • Tiffany says:

        Thank you so much for such a great and fast response :) I just assumed he was holding onto it until everything was paid but all that’s left to pay is the medical bills which are not very much. I just wasn’t sure if I had the right to ask for the money yet. If he does say he can’t do it for whatever reason is there something I can do to counter that then? Again thank you so much for doing this it’s very awesome of you to help those of us that don’t fully understand the legal system :)

        • fl_litig8r says:

          Most lawyers would prefer to do just one distribution, and usually that doesn’t pose a problem for clients. However, if a client needs money and the distribution is being held up by medical lien issue that only affects a portion of the settlement funds, there’s no real reason that the remainder of the funds can’t be distributed.

          If he says he can’t do it, the only legitimate justification would be that there isn’t $3,000.00 of the settlement funds which are not in dispute (may be subject to liens). He can’t refuse to do it just because it would be inconvenient for his bookkeeper. Print off the ethics rule I cited in my last comment and highlight subsection (f). If he says he won’t do it and can’t show how the $3,000.00 is in dispute, ask him how he reconciles his refusal with the “prompt payment” requirement in that ethics rule. His fear of you filing a bar complaint against him (which would be justified) should result in him giving you the partial distribution. If it doesn’t, you can file an ethics complaint with the state bar (this should be a last resort, as these are taken very seriously).

          • Tiffany says:

            Fantastic thank you so very much for your help and pointing me to that article. You’ve been awesome and thanks again for doing this it’s greatly appreciated :)

            Normally I’d not mind waiting heck I’ve done it almost a whole year whats a few more months but I’ve run into an issue with my roomate and thus don’t have rent for April. So it’s either get some money from this early or lose the apartment. I don’t need all of it just enough to pay up to the lease and get the heck away from my roomate. Thanks to work running skeleton crews for months don’t exactly have much of an income beside my half of rent and care for me and the hounds >_< Lovely economy we live in lol.

          • Tiffany says:

            I would just like to say another big thank you. Talked to my attorney, who really is a good guy just really busy lol, and he thought they’d already given me some money which isn’t the case lol. Multicare is jerking them around (which I figured as they are notorious for being slow and dumb) so they are going to hold the money out for them and what my insurance wants, which I thought they had already paid, and I can pick up a check tomorrow for what is left. I’m kind of glad it’s taken so long as it essentially is coming during a time I greatly need it. I never would’ve even considered this if it hadn’t been for this site so thank you for doing this :)

          • fl_litig8r says:

            You’re very welcome. I’m glad it worked out.

  21. Kathy says:

    I was injured in auto accident 6 years ago and the case was finally settled January 2011. I have not received the settlement payout yet. I have repeatedly called my attorney for an explanation of why I haven’t been paid as of yet. I keep getting the excuse that medicare has not signed off. This has been over a year ago now. My attorney will not answer my calls or release any of my funds. What can I do to get paid? The attorney has stated to me that he had received the check back in March 2011 and deposited it to his trust account and stated he was going to take his money right away. This accident happened in Illinois.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Medicare has been known to drag its heels quite a bit when it comes to giving a final total for reimbursement. A year is rare, but not unheard of. Have you discussed the possibility of a partial distribution with your lawyer, as I mentioned to Tiffany in another comment (it may be unethical for him to refuse to agree to a partial distribution)? If it’s clear that your medicare lien couldn’t possibly eat up all of your settlement (after fees, costs and other medical liens), your lawyer could hold back an amount which is sure to cover the full bill and pay you the rest. Usually, your lawyer will know the full amount medicare is asserting, and will only be held up on getting it to agree to a reduction for “procurement costs” (mostly your lawyer’s fee %). If he knows the full amount claimed, he can withhold that much and disburse the remainder (and give you the rest after medicare reduces its claim). If your case involves a medicare “set aside” for future medical treatment (in some cases, you need to assign some money to cover medicare’s future payments for treatment due to the accident), this may not work. Given that your injuries occurred 6 years ago, I wouldn’t think that would be the case with you — unless your injuries were so severe that you’re still treating for them.

      If your lawyer won’t call you back, see this article.

  22. Dwayne says:

    I settled my case and signed my papers Jan .23 2012.The attorney said the check will be here in 30 days and I have been contacting my attorney to only hear the secretary saying “He will call you when the check comes in” and nothing else. It is currently March 1st so he is a little past deadline.Other then talking to him and getting no answers.Would there happen to be a alternative route to finding out that information or are there specific questions I should ask him because I am getting very frustrated at this point?Its not a big money settlement (under 10K) if that means anything.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      There really is no other way to find out if your lawyer has gotten the check. The insurance company and its lawyers will be the only other people who know when or if it was sent out, and they won’t talk directly to you because you are represented by a lawyer.

      Most insurance companies make the settlement check payable both to the client and law firm, so your signature will most likely be needed before your lawyer can deposit it in his trust account. If this is the case, your lawyer will want you to come in immediately after the check arrives, as he can’t get paid until the check clears. So there isn’t any reason he’d delay notifying you that he received the check.

      If this is one of those rare cases where the insurer wrote the check to only require the lawyer’s endorsement, your lawyer may have received it, deposited it, and is just waiting for it to clear (up to 10 business days) before calling you in.

      I’d give it another few days before becoming concerned. It could just be a delay due to mail time (your lawyer mailing them the release and them mailing the check). If you’re having trouble getting a return call from your lawyer, see this article.

      While the insurer may owe you interest on the settlement due to a late payment, the fact that your settlement was only 10k means it probably wouldn’t be worth pursuing at this point.

  23. Jack says:

    I was recently in a slip and fall accident in california, where the offending company left a substance without a slippery when wet sign out. I fell and suffered some serious injuries and I an looking at 3 months rehabilitation. Their insurance adjuster called me and said they are aware it was their fault it happened. I’m not a greedy person and i dont want to involve a lawyer because id rather settle and get it over with but I was wondering in a situation where the company is at fault and admitted so openly, how much should I expect them to settle for.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      First, see this article. Because you’re not using a lawyer, I’d expect them to offer the amount of your medical bills and a little extra for pain and suffering (probably not even 1x your medical). It’s up to you whether that’s good enough. If not, they may move a little — but don’t expect any serious movement without you getting a lawyer. If you’re not happy with their initial offer, I’d suggest at least talking with a personal injury lawyer to see what he thinks he can do for you. Use the free consultation. If you don’t want to hire him after that, don’t.

      There are some things you should keep in mind if you want to settle on your own. Make sure you’re at maximum medical improvement before making an offer. You don’t want to gamble that all your medical treatment will go as planned. Also, be sure to include your future medical needs (meds, follow-ups) in your calculation. If your health insurance has paid for your medical bills, you will likely have to pay it back. Don’t let the company fool you into thinking that they don’t have to pay for medical bills that your health insurance covers — they do (because you have to pay the health insurer back in most cases).

  24. Rob says:

    Do you know of any statues in the Sate of CT. in regards to Settlement Check timing? A settlement was signed on Friday 4/3/2012.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      The abridged version is that it’s 30 days from the date that the defendant receives the signed release.

      For the full version, here’s your statute:

      Sec. 52-195c. Time period for payment of settlement amount. (a) When an action to recover damages has been settled, any settling defendant shall tender all sums due from such settling defendant to any settling plaintiff or such plaintiff’s agent not later than thirty days after receipt by the person or office designated in writing to the settling plaintiff or such plaintiff’s agent by the settling defendant at the time of settlement of a duly executed release and a withdrawal discontinuing any court action, if any such action is pending, that are tendered by such settling plaintiff or plaintiff’s agent and are executed by or on behalf of the settling plaintiff. If no such person or office is so designated, a settling plaintiff may tender such settlement documents to the settling defendant’s attorney or the representative of the settling defendant’s insurer with whom the settlement agreement was reached and such settling defendant shall tender all sums due from such settling defendant to any settling plaintiff or such plaintiff’s agent not later than thirty days after receipt of such settlement documents by the settling defendant’s attorney or the representative of the settling defendant’s insurer.

      (b) In an action that requires judicial approval of the settlement, the plaintiff shall also tender a copy of the order of the Probate Court or other order approving such settlement with the duly executed release and withdrawal discontinuing any pending court action executed on behalf of the plaintiff.

      (c) In the event that a settling defendant or insurer fails to promptly tender all sums as required by subsection (a) of this section, a default judgment shall be entered by the court on behalf of any unpaid plaintiff against such defendant twenty days after such plaintiff files a motion for a default judgment with the court and serves such motion upon the representative of the insurer with whom the settlement was reached or the defendant with whom the settlement was reached. Such motion shall be accompanied by an affidavit executed by the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney setting forth the terms of such settlement with supporting documentation attached.

      (d) Any insurer or defendant with whom the settlement was reached that fails to tender settlement proceeds within the time limit set forth in this section shall be liable for interest at a rate of twelve per cent a year on the amount of such settlement proceeds computed from the date such time limit expired.

      (e) As used in this section, “tender” means either to personally deliver or cause to be delivered or to mail by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. An insurer or a defendant may otherwise prove tender by presenting evidence that the settlement sums due from such insurer or such defendant were received by the settling plaintiff or such plaintiff’s agent.

  25. bill says:

    I live in NJ reached a settlement agreement.. we agreed that I would receive payment in one week after signed paperwork. I signed it on 03/23. all the other back stuff cleared too like CJS. Its now 04/13 and no check yet. what can I do or how can I put pressure on my attorney to speed up the process?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Well depending on the wording of the settlement agreement, the defendant’s failure to pay within the 7 days will cause one of two things to happen: (1) the defendant will have to add interest to the check at NJ’s post-judgment interest rate for each day that it is late or (2) it will allow you to void the settlement.

      Telling your lawyer that you are considering bailing on the settlement due to their failure to comply should light a fire under him to get them to issue the check immediately (hopefully with interest).

  26. David says:

    What are your thoughts on funding companies? I’ve heard mixed reviews

  27. KJ says:

    Hi, I live in Texas. I received a settlement from a car accident when I was 14, and my mom (who I am estranged from) okay’ed for me to get the funds at the age of 24 instead of 18. I am 19 now, and need the money for school. I have been trying to see what kind of process I can look forward to if I am seeking early release of my funds. So far, I have been denied by the judge when I tried to have Peachtree release my funds, because I would have only ended up with a fraction of the money. A couple of other lawyers said I would end up with the same result, because I’d be paying them fees as well. What can I do?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      How are the funds being held now? Are they being held in trust with your mother as trustee? Are they invested in some form of investment vehicle that doesn’t mature until you’re 24, and has a substantial penalty for early withdrawal? When you mention Peachtree, are you saying you wanted a lawsuit loan from them, or are they currently holding your settlement funds?

      The lawyers who said that taking legal action to get the funds early may wind up costing you too much in fees may be right (of course, this depends upon how much is at stake in the settlement — $5,000 in attorney fees for a $100,000 settlement might not be a bad deal, but for a $20,000 settlement it would).

      If your funds are being held in trust, and the trustee has the ability (but not the willingness) to disburse the funds to you for school, you may want to consult an estates & trusts lawyer, as there may be an option to sue the trustee for breach of fiduciary duty. Again, whether such a lawsuit is financially practical depends on the amount at issue and how much the lawyer intends to charge.

  28. dawn says:

    Hi i was in car accident on 1/26/11. Well progressive and my lawyer couldn’t find the driver who hit me and ran. But i did have bodily injury on my policy they would pay for. So progressive agreed to that just few weeks ago sent me letter in the mail and all that. My lawyer then after had me sign the paper work to release the check. well that was two weeks ago this past week i check in and the check bounced. Due to endorsement issue. My question is how long can it take to for them endorse it again? resend it. Is there anything i can do to help speed up or put some fire under the car insurance company? I am in California

    • fl_litig8r says:

      If it was an “endorsement issue” that should be a problem with how the check was signed by you and your lawyer. Did you actually sign the back of the check from Progressive? Did you see who the check was made payable to? Most settlement checks are made payable to both the lawyer and the client (and the client’s spouse, if you are married and there was a possible loss of consortium claim). If your lawyer tried to deposit the check without having you (or your spouse, if applicable) sign it, that could be the problem. I’m not sure if the bank would give your lawyer the chance to fix this error (which would be a very quick fix — just have the missing payee come in and sign the back of the check).

      Sometimes insurers will also add third party lienholders (like your health insurer) as payees on the check, to ensure that they get paid out of the settlement.

      If there was another issue with the check (I doubt that it “bounced”), such as the insurer putting the wrong name or names as payees, then you’d definitely have to have Progressive re-issue the check. While there are measures that can be taken to push Progressive along, such as a lawsuit to enforce the settlement agreement), realistically, that will probably take longer than just waiting for a new check to be sent. This would only be reserved for times when the insurer really drags its heels in issuing a new check (say more than 30 days).

      If the error was Progressive’s, you may be able to get them to add interest to the check to account for the delay in payment. However, this probably wouldn’t amount to much (even a month’s worth of interest on most settlements won’t be worth the trouble of trying to get it).

      I’d suggest you get clarification from your lawyer as to why the bank rejected the check. Make sure that it’s Progressive’s fault, and not one of the endorsement errors I mentioned above.

  29. Cass says:

    I was in an accident on November 23, 2011 in Michigan. I was rear ended and my car was totalled. The other driver was issued a ticket for her negligence. I had an MRI done which showed that I have a herniated disc. I have undergone physical therapy which has improved my pain level, but not made it completely go away. My attorney is asking $100,000 since that is the amount of coverage the other driver had. Typically, how long is it before a settlement will be reached? Once a settlement is reached, would I then have to pay my insurance back for the monies they paid? I have Blue Cross Blue Shield and then secondary I have my auto insurance.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      If your case is clearly worth $100,000 or more, the insurer will want to settle within 30 days of receiving your attorney’s demand for policy limits to avoid the possibility of a bad faith lawsuit. If your doctors are not recommending surgery for the herniated disc, valuing your case at $100,000 may be a stretch. I’m not suggesting that you should push for unneeded surgery. It’s just common knowledge that insurers typically value surgical cases more highly than non-surgical. Your case may have other factors which would increase its value. I just can’t tell from the facts provided.

      If your case is worth less than policy limits, how long it takes to settle will depend on (1) how pre-suit negotiations go and (2) whether litigation is required. That can vary from a few months to a few years.

      It is very likely that you will have to pay back your health insurer, either in whole or in part, depending on the type of policy you have. The article I just linked to addresses this issue.

      As to your no-fault PIP benefits, my understanding of Michigan law (not a Michigan lawyer, so take your own lawyer’s advice over mine) is that the tortfeasor receives a set-off for any amounts paid to your by your PIP insurance, so you do not reimburse PIP from your liability settlement. In other words, because you can only recover economic damages in excess of that paid to you by PIP from the tortfeasor, you never have to pay PIP back because you never receive money from the tortfeasor to cover the PIP carrier’s prior payments. As an example, if your PIP paid $5,000 in medical bills (assuming no other insurance for this example) and your total medical bills were $20,000, you could only sue to recover $15,000 (the amount which exceeded the PIP payment). From that $15,000, you would not have to pay your PIP insurer anything.

      Hope this helps, and I wish you a quick (and fair) settlement.

      • Cass says:

        I had a daughter who was 22 weeks old at the time of the accident and she was exclusively breastfed. As a result of the accident (pain related, unable to take pain meds because they would pass through my milk), I stopped producing milk as I had before the accident and therefore she stopped gaining weight appropriately and had to be supplemented with formula. I believe that this is why my attorney is asking for the limit of $100,000. My health insurance is basically denying paying for anything and asking my auto insurance to pay for it, so far Blue Cross Blue Shield has paid nothing. Would I have to have surgery in order to collect? The doctor has recommended that I try other options prior to surgery, but surgery is something that could possibly happen. I don’t want to have back surgery and am trying these other options and even if they do not work do not know if I would follow through with surgery.

        • fl_litig8r says:

          Don’t have surgery unless you need it. It is always best to exhaust non-surgical options for disc injuries. Put what’s best for your health above what’s best for your liability claim. I only mentioned surgery in my last comment because insurers arbitrarily treat surgical cases more seriously than non-surgical cases, so it may affect the insurer’s willingness to pay policy limits. So, no, you do not need to have surgery to collect. It just tends to make a case easier to settle, as the insurer will assign it a higher value. Because surgery is still a possibility in your case, your lawyer can still argue to the insurer that you will need it and that your case should be treated as a surgical case.

          Anecdotally speaking, clients of mine who have had back surgery for disc issues often don’t experience a huge improvement in pain — it most often helped in cases where they had numbness or weakness in their extremities. So, if your problem is just pain, and not numbness or loss of function in your limbs, surgery might not help that much.

          As to your issue with the PIP insurer and health insurer, this mess can be blamed on Michigan’s PIP laws. In Florida, where I practice, PIP is always primary to health insurance, so PIP always pays first. In Michigan, you have different PIP options, (1) uncoordinated PIP, in which PIP is primary to health insurance, and (2) coordinated PIP, in which PIP will most often be secondary to health insurance. The default is apparently “coordinated PIP,” as it is cheaper. Unfortunately, coordinated PIP can lead to the finger pointing between the PIP and health insurers that you seem to be experiencing, as it is not always a cut and dry case of the health insurer being primary. Most often, the issue appears to arise when the health insurance is an ERISA policy (ERISA is a federal law governing employer-sponsored benefit plans), and contains a clause which disputes it being primary in accident cases.

  30. Carlos R.Solis says:

    Dear fl litig8r,
    I came across your blog when I was surfing for info. that would give me a clue how long before I get my settlement check. I was a heavy equipment mechanic for a concrete company in Colorado until I tore up my back. When I learned that it was permanent and that I had to find a new type of work after twenty years in this industry I was dissapointed. When my ex-boss turned my freinds against me because I hired a lawyer I was dissapointed. When a company bratt (family business), damaged my tool box while I wasn’t there, I called the cops on them and got my tool box repaired,and yes I was dissapointed.
    So now that I read your blog and found out that my settlement check wont be released any time soon, I wont be dissapointed. Whats more when I learn that the amount I will probably get wont be what I anticipated,I wont be dissapointed.
    Thanx for the info and wish you continued success.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Worker’s Comp cases (I assume that’s what you have) can move along differently from personal injury cases, mainly because they usually require a judge to sign off on the settlement. While this can lead to some additional delays (waiting for the judge’s approval) it may also result in the payment from the carrier being made more promptly, as they know the judge will not respond well to any shenanigans in issuing the settlement check. Hopefully, the carrier’s fear of getting on the comp judge’s bad side (for this and future cases) will speed along your payment.

      Thanks for the kind words. I hope your case turns out better than you think.

  31. Russ says:

    Hi, I came across this while looking for answers on google, This isn’t for me but for a friend, She is sueing a doctor/pharmacy, the insurance company’s lawyers wanted to settle out of court and kept sending papers with different amounts of money they were willing to pay to her lawyer, when they came up with a price that was satisfactory to her, she signed the paper and agreed to the amount.

    She was supposed to get two checks, one being about two months from now, the other some time much later, But now apparently They’ve “changed their minds” about what they agreed upon, and are looking for settling for less and sending them more paper work… Also talk of potentially waiting her out, or scheduling a court date has come up, which could apparently take up to two years before she sees the money she is owed,

    I am a little confused, I thought that once you agreed upon a settlement then that was done and what you are hold too. My friend really needs the money she is owed for family and living expenses, It just seems shady, any insight or explanation you could give to help understand this matter would be appreciative.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Well, that sounds like a pretty unusual negotiation. Whether or not she has a binding settlement agreement will depend in large part on the specific wording of the agreement they sent her (whether it was an actual offer) and whether she did all she needed to do to timely accept it. If it did constitute a binding settlement agreement, she should be able to bring a lawsuit just to enforce the agreement and not have to go through a lengthy tort lawsuit on the underlying claim. I’m sure that her lawyer has already considered that possibility.

      This really is a case of the devil being in the details. Like any other contract, settlement agreements are subject to various defenses even if the agreement turns out to be valid (just see my article on getting out of a settlement agreement).

  32. John Charles says:

    Hi, I live in florida just a quick question What do you know about chubb insurance, i was in a car accident 9-23-2011, i want to know if they are a good car insurance to settle case, person policy limite is 500,000/1,000,000 Thanks so much. my medical bill so far its $19,000

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Chubb tends to cater to higher end clients, as evidenced by the policy limits of the driver that hit you. They will often be both the auto and homeowner’s insurer for their insureds. I see this a positive as far as settlement possibilities are concerned. I would expect Chubb to want to spare their wealthy client the inconvenience of participating in a lawsuit, meaning that they would pay more than your average insurer if it means keeping their insured happy (and out of a lawsuit). Now, while this doesn’t mean that Chubb will entertain ridiculous offers, it does mean that they probably wouldn’t want to risk ticking off their client (and losing his business) over a few thousand dollars. So, I’d expect the Chubb adjuster handling this claim to have more leeway to “make it go away” than, say, a State Farm or Progressive adjuster.

  33. Charles2323 says:

    Thank you for your answer, how much you think they will offer to settle thanks again.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I’m flattered that you think I can guess what they’ll offer based solely on the amount of your medical bills. I’m good, but not that good. The only advice I can give you as to the possible value of your case is in this article.

  34. aleesha says:

    Hello,

    I live in the state of Kentucky. Two years ago my 9yr old daughter was involved in a summer camp accident at the YMCA. This resulted in fractured Tib/Fib and caused a bend in my daughter”s leg. The YMCA took 100% responsability for the accident due to the negligance of the counselors. I decided to settle the cast about 1 month ago, b/c I wanted to make sure my daughter would be okay. I have heard nothing. My lawyer said I should hear something soon. I’m starting to get pissed off. How much $ should I expect and when. This has impacted my daughters life forever & I’m tired of the BS. Thanks

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I’m a bit confused. When you say you “decided to settle the case about 1 month ago”, was there an actual offer from the YMCA on the table? It doesn’t sound like it if your lawyer said that you “should hear something soon”. That sounds more like your lawyer made an offer to settle and was waiting to hear whether the YMCA would accept (or counter-offer). If that’s the case, settlement offers are typically left open for 30 days. If there is no response by then, the lawyer can either follow up with a phone call (in case there is a good reason for their delay) or file suit.

      I really can’t speculate as to the value of your case (especially just knowing that it was a broken leg). I can direct you to this article, which discusses how to estimate the value of your lawsuit.

      As to when you should expect your money, without knowing if you even have a settlement agreement (have you signed a release?), I can’t say. If you do in fact have a settlement agreement, your lawyer should provide you with a written distribution statement showing you how much you will get from the settlement. It will list the gross settlement amount, the amount for attorney’s fees and costs, any amount needed to pay back your health insurer and to pay off any outstanding letters of protection — the remainder after these deductions is what you get.

      One thing you should be aware of is that because the settlement is for a minor child, when you do reach an agreement you may need court approval. This will often depend on the amount of the settlement (the bigger the settlement, the more likely court approval will be needed). That could delay payment by another month or more.

      • aleesha says:

        Thank you for the reply. Yeah I have been a bit confused on the whole thing myself. All I know is that they wanted to settle the case about 1 year ago, I decided that I would wait to make sure her leg was healing properly. I’m just starting to question my lawyer and his intent. I have been left in the dark concerning settlements amounts, even though I’ve asked him a couple times what we should be expecting. He’s always unsure. I do realize that the judge would need to approve it, but at this point I know nothing. I’m starting to wonder who’s side he’s on, and wether or not I should seek a different lawyer. What questions should I ask him?

        • fl_litig8r says:

          Well, the big question right now is “Has the YMCA made any settlement offers, and if so, how much was the last one?” When you have this number, you can estimate how much you’ll get on your own by first deducting your attorney’s fee percentage (check your contract for the pre-lawsuit percentage) and then any amount your health insurer has paid for your daughter’s accident-related medical care. There will probably be a few more deductions, such as your attorney’s costs — but at this point those shouldn’t be significant.

          If your lawyer hasn’t been engaged in settlement negotiations yet, it may be time to have a “come to Jesus” meeting with him — face to face. If he doesn’t have the time to actively work your case, ask him to let you out of the contract so you can find another lawyer who does. It might be a good idea to set up a half hour face-to-face appointment with him anyway, just so he can bring you up to speed on what’s going on.

        • aleesha says:

          Thank You so much for all you do & for helping little people like us! It’s much appreciated!

  35. Ray says:

    I received a partial payment from my settlement May of last year. My lawyer still has not paid any of the medical bills I have. Is the any type of timeframe he has to pay the medical bills? It will be a year at the end of this month. (State of NJ)

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Ethically, he has to pay them as soon as he has the money, once the amount of the bill is finalized. While it’s not unusual for there to be delays in getting final billing information from medical providers and health insurers, and some extra delays while your lawyer tries to negotiate these bills down (if possible), one year from the date of settlement seems unusually long. You may want to gather up your billing statements that show the outstanding amounts and set up an appointment with your lawyer to go over this.

  36. Janell Carmona says:

    My son was involved in a auto accident last June 2011. His grandfather was drinking and driving and fell asleep at the wheel, losing control and rolling his truck over. He was taken by ambulance to a trauma center in Charlotte county has multiple test done was treated and DISCHARGED before I arrived from Dade county to find my 13 y/o son sitting in a wheelchair alone outside of the ER. They had soft casted his arm and sent him on his way with DC papers instructing him to follow up with a Ortho in 3wks stating that patient understood these instruction :/ Needless to say as soon as my pediatrician opened her doors I was there (the accident was on a sat night I saw dr mon morning) She immediately referred me to my local children s hospital. Once we arrived my son was admitted immediately had multiple xrays and blood test to check for severe infection. So they removed his soft cast to find gravel, leaves and dirt on a wound oozing puss, super swollen and very red. They had to drug him up to be able to reopen his wounds and clean them all out that including scrubbing while this poor child cryed :( So after all this is said and done I got an attorney which is saying I can only get 10,000 settlement from Allstate because all their paperwork is in order :/ WTH! I have about $90.000 in bills my son ended up with nerve damage on his rt hand from the laceration and is still in therapy :( Do I have to except this ridiculous offer ??? My attorney says thats all I can get :( Please Help

    • fl_litig8r says:

      There are several different auto insurance coverages which may apply to your son’s injuries. For purposes of this explanation, I’m assuming that your son lives with you and that his grandfather does not. My answer would change considerably if this is not the case, so let me know.

      First, if the grandfather had bodily injury (BI) coverage, that would be available to your son. BI is not a mandatory coverage in Florida. Second, if his grandfather also had uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, and your son’s damages exceed the amount of BI coverage, that would also be available. Third, if you (or another resident family member) own a car which has UM coverage, that, too, would be available. UM insurance is not mandatory in Florida.

      If there really is only $10,000.00 in available liability insurance, that means that either (1) the grandfather had BI insurance with $10,000.00 limits and neither he nor any resident relative in your household had UM coverage, or (2) that the grandfather had no BI or UM (you need BI to get UM in Florida) coverage, but someone in your household had $10,000.00 in UM.

      If either of the above two scenarios sound right to you, then the lawyer is correct as to only $10,000.00 in automobile insurance coverage being available. What he means by Allstate’s “paperwork being in order” is that they have on file a signed waiver of UM coverage by either the grandfather, you or both– if they didn’t, they would have to provide UM coverage in the amount of the policy’s BI coverage. So if there was $10,000.00 in BI and the insurer didn’t have a signed UM waiver on file, they’d have to provide $10,000.00 in UM even if the coverage was never paid for.

      If the two scenarios describe above don’t sound right to you (e.g., you know that you have UM coverage which the lawyer didn’t take into consideration) then you need to bring this fact to the lawyer’s attention — of course, he should have asked about it, so this gives me concerns about how thorough he is.

      In any event, in addition to the liability coverages, because Florida is a no-fault state, your son will be covered by PIP insurance (if a resident relative — a relative who lives with your son, including you — owns a car, he’ll be covered under that policy; if not, he’ll be covered under his grandfather’s policy). PIP is a mandatory coverage in Florida. The standard PIP policy provides $10,000.00 in total coverage and pays 80% of accident related medical bills and 60% of lost wages (which I’m assuming wouldn’t apply in your son’s case). There are some options available for PIP coverage which can change the standard provisions. For example, it may have a deductible which must be met before coverage kicks in, or an extended PIP option which pays 100% of medical bills.

      Finally, and probably most importantly, given the facts you’ve described, your lawyer should consider a medical malpractice claim against the hospital in Charlotte County. There is a 2 year statute of limitations on med mal claims in Florida, so you still have time to pursue this. The med mal claim would only include damages which were caused by the hospital’s negligence (assuming they were negligent), so any damages your son would have incurred due to the car accident which were not affected by the malpractice would not be covered. So, if your would have needed $20,000.00 in treatment had no malpractice occurred, you would only be able to claim the additional $70,000.00 in medical treatment in a med mal claim (which would still leave you with a $10,000.00 gap in coverage due to inadequate auto insurance). The same would apply to pain and suffering. Only that pain and suffering which was caused by the malpractice (aside from the pain and suffering your son would have had from the car accident had malpractice not occurred) would be recoverable in a med mal lawsuit.

      If you lawyer immediately shoots down the idea of a med mal claim, you should consult with another lawyer who specializes in med mal as soon as possible.

  37. Dhruv says:

    over the phone my lawyer told me we should just settle case without going in trial. We are plaintiff. It was slip and fall injury case. my lawyer said case is settle for $11000, after so many e-mails and phone calls from my side to my lawyer. He was never letting me know clearly how much was original case was settle for. he was just letting me know that you are getting 5000 after all his fees and cost. In agreement between us it was 1/3 fees agreed. now after all his fees and cost its only 5000 that i get is very upsetting settlement. Now I am asking about all breakdown of settlement and he is calling me at his office and not sending me info about breakdown in mail or e-mail. since for 11000 to 5000 is like more than 1/2 that he is taking. all this makes me in doubt for him. and why he is not sending me info in detail before i go to his office, so that if i have doubt i can have checked his bill with second opinion. 1/3 of 11000 is like 7200 . Do you think 2200 is normal fees of his cost ?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      You are certainly entitled to a written statement outlining how the settlement money is allocated. This should include:

      • The gross amount of the settlement
      • The amount of the attorney’s fee (which should be 1/3 of the gross)
      • The amount of the attorney’s costs — note that costs are in addition to fees, and reimburse the attorney for money he has spent on your case. The attorney does not profit from costs — he breaks even.
      • Any amounts paid to medical lienholders, such as your health insurer or any doctors who treated you under a letter of protection.
      • The net amount paid to you — which should be the gross amount, minus the listed fees, costs and medical expenses

      While $5,000.00 may not seem like much from an $11,000.00 settlement, it sounds pretty typical to me given the 1/3 fee and the usual medical expenses associated with such a claim. I really doubt that your lawyer is trying to pull a fast one. I think you didn’t take your medical costs and reimbursing your health insurer into consideration.

      When you visit you lawyer’s office, he should have a written distribution statement prepared for you which should spell all of this out. Most (if not all) state bar’s ethics rules require the lawyer to provide such a statement and have the client sign off on it before either the lawyer or the client gets paid (the money sits in the lawyer’s trust account until then). Your lawyer may not want to send you the distribution statement ahead of time because he wants to be there to go over it with you and explain everything. This isn’t that unusual. I would only be concerned if he doesn’t have a written statement available when you go in to get your settlement check. If that happens, I’d suggest not taking the check at that time and calling your state’s bar association to notify them of what happened.

  38. Dhruv says:

    First of all thank you very much for your time and suggestions. I am not following your answer exactly. Is lawyer trying to cheat me ? When it was slip and fall injury happened at my condominium. Injury was estimate actual $16000 from doctors office. Condominium has policy to award up to 5000 only and they did give that money. then i hired lawyer and was already informed about all this in detail and also doctor’s estimate. I didn’t had insurance at all. I didn’t wanted to spend any money from my pocket until i get paid. so i waited. with 5000 i got temporary help from doctor which cost 5000 so all money that condominium check went directly to doctor which was before i hired lawyer. But to fix my injury it will estimate $16000 which is still standing. What do u think in all this matter ? Do you think my lawyer can make big bill on his cost part ? Pls suggest. Thank you again.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      To be clear, I don’t think your lawyer is trying to cheat you. The only way to be sure is to go to his office and review the written distribution he should have prepared, which explains where all of your settlement money is going. Your settlement may be lower than you expected due to an unknown cost, such as a medical lien of which you were not aware.

      The $5,000.00 you first received from the association was almost certainly its Med Pay coverage, which covers injuries on the premises without regard to fault. Your attorney got your settlement from the liability coverage.

      When you review the lawyer’s settlement distribution form, make sure that the gross settlement matches what you expected. Make sure the fee is listed as 1/3 of that amount. I don’t think that his costs should be so high as to reduce your net settlement amount to $5,000.00. So, there should be some other expense listed (most likely something medical) which explains the shortfall.

      Your lawyer should be able to explain all of this to you in person. This is why I suggest going to his office to review his distribution paperwork. If he doesn’t have a written distribution form prepared, or you are not satisfied with his explanation of the distribution (say he has $3,000.00 in costs, which would be unusually high for such a small case), you should not accept any settlement money from him before consulting another lawyer or your state’s bar association.

      • Dhruv says:

        thank you sir, thank you. If I have dispute with this lawyers bill (his cost) , do you think i can still get my $5000 check and then process on dispute ? Bcoz i wanna get started my injury work done.

        • fl_litig8r says:

          This is a gray area. If you accept the check, it may be construed as you accepting his entire distribution of the settlement, including his costs. The safest thing is not to take the check until the cost issue is resolved. The next safest thing would be to put something in writing stating that while you are accepting the $5,000.00 as a partial distribution, you do not agree with the remainder of the distribution, which should be held in trust until the dispute between you and your lawyer is resolved. It would be best to have this signed by both you and your lawyer.

          Hopefully, it won’t come to that — I’m hoping he has an adequate explanation for the distribution he has planned.

  39. Dhruv says:

    I have just received my lawyer’s settlement sheet. I have seen 900 charge in bill for deposition. Defendant lawyers have asked for my deposition(we are plaintiff). it was held at my lawyers office. it was for 45 – to max 60 minutes only. Do you think its 100% of amount that my lawyer paid ? or it could be just some percentage of total deposition charge ? I asked him for copies of reimbursement checks but he is not giving me that . Do I have right to see that check copy before signing ? is it my right to ask ? thank you.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      $900 for a one-hour deposition seems way too high, even if your lawyer ordered the original copy (which is very unusual when the other side is the one conducting the deposition). If the other side ordered the original (which costs far more than a copy), and your lawyer just ordered a copy, this is definitely wrong. Are you sure your lawyer didn’t depose anyone? I could see a $900 bill being reasonable if he had taken depositions and ordered the transcripts.

      You have a right to see the bills which support his costs. Most lawyers keep separate billing files that have copies of all of the receipts for the expenses in each case. You should see the court reporter’s bill for the deposition cost he’s claiming. If he refuses to produce the billing records, you may want to threaten calling the state bar about this.

  40. Sherry Guyden says:

    Hi, I have a couple of questions and hoping you can help. I live in the state of florida and my childrens father is currently getting ready to settle on a work comp claim. My question is I am owed over $30,000 in back child support and was receving payments from his work comp check which have suddenly stopped, will I receive any back pay from his work comp settlement. Child support enforcement said they had notified the judge in Tallahassee that he owes, but will the be able to take was owed to me and send it to me? Thanks

    • fl_litig8r says:

      As a disclaimer, I don’t practice either family law or workers compensation law. That being said, it appears from this case that the answer to your question is yes. I couldn’t find any authority to the contrary.

  41. Dhruv says:

    there was interpretor been asked for me. do you think that could have cost more. Do you think i can talk to you rather than fill up whole your blog with my questions ? its ok if you say No. Thanks

    • fl_litig8r says:

      If an interpreter was hired for the deposition, that could certainly explain the higher cost. As to talking to me on the phone, I’m going to have to say no. I answer people’s questions on the blog because it may help other people who have similar issues, so it adds information to the site. I’m not interested in providing one-on-one advice to anyone (hence, my website’s name).

  42. kim jones says:

    Hello. I have been reading but it looks like I missed something. What is your $10 plan?

  43. Marissa says:

    I got into a no fault car accident in NY on November 2010. Till now I still never had my examination before trial due to them keep rescheduling it (other insurance). They rescheduled it 3 times now. How many times can they reschedule it? My lawyer can’t even tell me about how much can I settle for. They keep saying they don’t know. But is it possible I may not even get anything?? How many more years till this will be done with anyway? Did I go through all this trouble, is it worth it? The most info I get is we must wait till the examination before trial. Please help.

    I have been attending Physical Therapy for almost a year as well.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      If, by examination, you mean IME, it’s entirely up to the defendant whether it wants one and when it occurs. If it is not giving you ample notice of rescheduling (such that you miss work or are otherwise inconvenienced), your lawyer can ask the court for a protective order to stop the constant scheduling/re-scheduling or at least require that any cancellation come with adequate notice.

      The court wouldn’t delay giving a trial date just because the defendant hasn’t subjected you to an IME (as I said, there’s no requirement that they even have one). Do you know whether your lawyer has yet requested a trial date (usually by filing a Notice for Trial)? Once the trial date is set, the court will set a deadline for all discovery (e.g., interrogatories, depositions, IMEs, etc.) to be completed, so that will solve your IME delay problem (they’ll either have one by the deadline or not have one at all). Has your case been mediated yet? Frequently, judges won’t set a trial date until a case has gone through mediation because most cases settle and it doesn’t want to unnecessarily tie up its docket.

      It’s not surprising that your lawyer can’t tell you how much the case will settle for (that depends on how much the defendant offers). He should be able to estimate what he thinks the case is worth, however. Otherwise, how would he know whether the case should settle or go to trial? If your case doesn’t settle and you wind up going to trial, there is always the possibility that you will lose, so, yes, you may wind up not recovering anything. If the defendant has admitted fault for the accident (and is just disputing damages), you should get something at trial, but maybe not nearly as much as you think the case is worth. These risks play into why most cases settle.

      As to why your lawsuit is taking so long, it could be any number of things. It may have taken you a long time to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is a possibility given that you have been attending physical therapy for so long. There could be unforeseen delays in setting up witness depositions, such as the deposition of your treating doctors. The court’s docket may be crowded (criminal cases take priority over civil, causing further delays to personal injury trials).

      I can’t say how much longer it will be before your case is resolved. If you were injured and the other driver was at fault, then pursuing a recovery is definitely worth it. Just hang in there. I’ve handled cases that took far longer to bring to trial, one of which took about 7 years from the date of the injury (but that case resulted in a multi-million dollar verdict — and another 18 months of appeals before we got paid). Your case is taking a while, but many cases do. I hope it turns out to be worth the wait for you.

  44. Rob says:

    Hi, we settled our suit with the driver’s insurance company that hit my wife (a pedestrian) for their policies limit ($50K). About 2 months ago our lawyer went and sent a letter/ uninsured motorist claim to our insurance at the time to collect the remainder amount of what he valued our claim at (Approx. $150K), since the settled amount was at the insured driver’s policy limit. What should we be expecting as far as a time frame for this to work out? I don’t believe our lawyer has heard anything back form our insurance company to date in regards to the letter.

    I would also comment that all witness reports and other case materials were provided as part of the UIM claim. The driver was 100% at fault for hitting my wife in the parking lot.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      If your UM policy limits exceed the remaining value of your case, it will probably take longer to settle this claim than it took to settle the BI claim. This is because both sides will actually have to work to come to a consensus of the actual value of the case, as opposed to just agreeing that the case is worth “more than $50,000.00.” Even in cases of clear liability such as yours, issues regarding damages could be enough to require litigation, or even a trial (though most won’t require a trial).

      It’s too early after your lawyer’s initial demand to know whether your case is heading that way. I would have expected some kind of response by your UM insurer by now, even if it was just a request for more information. If your lawyer hasn’t heard anything back, that’s not a promising sign for a quick resolution.

      • Rob says:

        UPDATE: I received a letter and copy of summons form my attorney in the mail today. It looks like we’ve put the insurance company on notice and are moving forward with a potential lawsuit.

        • fl_litig8r says:

          Is the lawsuit to enforce the settlement agreement, or has your lawyer abandoned that agreement?

          • Rob says:

            We’ve already settled with the other driver’s insurance company for the policy limit ($50,000). and received the monies. Now we are going after our insurer at the time for the uninsured motorist coverage we had on our policy. The driver that hit my wife, their policy limit was not enough to cover the amount that our case was valued at. We reached out to our insurer in regards to the UIM (our policy had $250,000 for person limit). The attorney has not been able to come to a settlement amount with them thus he has issued a lawsuit summons. He valued the case in excess of $200,000. We requested $150,000 from the UIM, hoping to settle for $70,000 perhaps.

          • fl_litig8r says:

            It’s good that your lawyer is forcing the UIM insurer’s hand by filing the lawsuit. It’s really the only thing he can do if you couldn’t reach a settlement. It could be a while before this part of the case gets resolved. Coming up with a fair settlement amount when there are adequate policy limits is particularly difficult. Cases go to trial over pure damages issues all the time, even in cases of admitted liability. Hopefully, yours won’t be one of those.

          • Rob says:

            The insurer has hired a local attorney at this point who filed an appearance 2 days after the suit was filed. Does this mean we may be in for a long road ahead?

          • fl_litig8r says:

            Not necessarily. They had to hire a lawyer because you filed suit. While it may still be many months before you settle, as the defense will probably want to conduct some discovery, including depositions, the fact that they hired a lawyer doesn’t automatically mean that they’re looking to make this a long, drawn-out battle.

          • Rob says:

            On 11/05/2012 the insurance companie’s lawyer filed for an extension. Not sure how long that can be in the State of CT. Then on 11/16/12 our lawyer filed a Notice not sure what that is? My wife went in back in October and filled out a deposition to submit to the insurance companies lawyer as well.

          • fl_litig8r says:

            I don’t know what your question is, but you need to be more specific as to what the extension related to and what your lawyer’s notice was for if your question relates to them. There are too many things that can be extended or noticed for me to guess.

            As far as the deposition, I’m not sure that this is what your wife did, as depositions are not “filled out” and submitted. That sounds more like interrogatories.

          • Rob says:

            Happy New Year to you! On 1/8 the Defendant (insurance company) filed an Answer and Special Defense and then also a Claim for a Jury of 6.

            Does this look like we may be headed to court or is this a sign that a settlement agreement may be reached soon?

            Thanks.

          • fl_litig8r says:

            Well, you’re already in litigation if the defendant has filed an Answer. As to whether this is a sign that you’re going to trial or if you’ll settle, it’s really neither. The defendant only has 20 days from being served with your Complaint in which to file an Answer, so all this means is that your case couldn’t be settled before a lawsuit was filed (or within 20 days thereafter). I doubt that a settlement will be reached soon, though, because frankly if the case could be easily settled it would have been prior to your lawyer filing a lawsuit. It’s likely that you’ll have to go through some discovery, including answering interrogatories and attending a deposition, before your case is in a position to be settled. That could take several months. The good news is that most cases settle, even after a lawsuit is filed, so the odds are in your favor that you won’t have to go to trial.

  45. Alfredo Villela says:

    I am from California,in 2005 I was in a accident. I settled my case in March 28, 2012. The amount is over 250,000 the lawyers said social security had to clear the check. I do not owe anything to social security or any other third party. My lawyer told me I had to wait 90 days before social security clears the check. I want to know if that is correct? Do you know how long it is supposed to take, this is a workers comp settlement from a private company not a government company.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Have you received or are you currently receiving social security disability benefits?

      • Alfredo Villela says:

        I was receiving workers comp then they stopped it, then I started receiving disability for two months. After two months of disability I went back to receiving workers comp. I only received disability for a total of two months. It was roughly 4,800.

        But to answer your question, no I am not currently receiving any type of benefits.

        • fl_litig8r says:

          It could be that your attorney needs confirmation from the SSA that they are not contending that any of the $4,800 they paid needs to be reimbursed from your settlement. Typically, if you receive SSDI benefits and later receive a workers compensation settlement which includes the same time period, you have to reimburse the SSA from the comp settlement to the extent that the benefits overlap.

          If your comp settlement doesn’t include the time period during which you received SSDI, it could be that your lawyer is just making sure that the SSA is aware of this fact and agrees that no reimbursement is owed. While the delay is obviously annoying, it will probably save time and hassle in the long run, as it could get ugly if the SSA demands reimbursement after the settlement is distributed. Checking with them first avoids this.

          • Alfredo Villela says:

            How long does it take to usually settle the social security process? How long do you think it’ll take for me to actually get the settlement check?

          • fl_litig8r says:

            I really can’t answer that. I’m not a comp lawyer, so I have no personal experience in resolving SSA liens in comp cases (much less ones in California).

          • Alfredo Villela says:

            Thank you for your advice, it was helpful. Thank you for your time. God Bless

  46. Dhruv says:

    I was plaintiff. Defender ask my deposition and ask me if i need interpreter, and i said yes. and Just under 1 hr depo its $900 ?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      This is why you need to see the invoices supporting your lawyer’s costs before signing off on the distribution. If he refuses to show them to you, take it up with the state bar.

  47. MJC1015 says:

    I am part of a large class action suit in California against my ex employer. The case has been settled and the last court date was the end of may. When I called the company that is handling the questions and distribution of paperwork she let me know not to expect to hear anything for 60-90 days. Does this mean anything in regards to when we will be getting our settlement checks or is this time when they have to issue the checks? ( we had received information packets with the $$ amount approximate in them )
    I am not familiar with when companies have to issue the settlement money etc.
    Thank you-

    • fl_litig8r says:

      This may just be the date by which they figure out exactly how much each class member will receive. I can’t say if you’ll be paid during this time period or even if the checks will be cut by the defendant. Class actions tend to have time tables that are quite different than non-class cases. This is a question only your lawyer will be able to answer, as there may be deadlines set forth in the settlement agreement which will control this.

  48. Derek says:

    I am located in Boston mass. I had an auto accident which was proven not my fault but the other driver had no insurance now i have been to two meetings 1 at my lawyers office and 1 and the insurers office. I have bills coming to me saying i owe money to the hospital and physical therapy which my insurer was suppose to take care of.(bodily injury $40,000) also the damage done to my car i had to pay out of my pocket. Its been a 2 year settlement so far and i recieved and heard nothing from either side even though i have left messages with my lawyer. So my questions are, has my lawyer taken my money, Did the insurer decide my case is not real, and what do i do now get another lawyer to take this lawyer to court because i know several ppl who have had the same problem. Thankyou

    • fl_litig8r says:

      First, I doubt that your lawyer has taken your money. Your insurer would not settle your claim without having you sign a release. So, if you haven’t signed a release, your case hasn’t settled. Also, taking a client’s money is a fast way to get disbarred and it’s pretty easy to prove, so most lawyers (unless they are addicts) would never do this.

      That being said, before moving on to another lawyer, I suggest reading this article about what to do when your lawyer won’t return your calls. If you fire your lawyer, you may still have to pay him, so it’s worth trying to work it out first.

      As to how your coverages should play out, your PIP insurance should have paid the first $2,000.00 of your medical bills automatically. If you don’t have health insurance it should have paid up to $8,000.00 in medical bills total (if you have health insurance in Mass., it is primary to your PIP for claims over $2,000.00).

      If you have the minimum mandatory Uninsured Motorist coverage, which in Mass is known as “Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto”, your coverage would be $20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident. This means you would only be able to recover $20,000, not $40,000. The $40,000 limit applies if multiple people are injured in the accident who are covered by the same policy — each person could recover no more than $20,000 individually, but all claims together could not exceed $40,000.

      Your insurer would likely not pay your medical bills on a continuing basis under the UM coverage (unlike your PIP coverage). Rather, it would try to settle the whole UM claim at once, based on a demand from your lawyer. Your lawyer may not have sent a demand yet (which is something you’d need to discuss with him). I doubt that your insurer just decided that your case isn’t real. It sounds like it just hasn’t had its feet held to the fire about settling your case.

      If you ran out of PIP insurance (and didn’t have health insurance) and still needed medical care, your lawyer should have secured your medical treatment through a letter of protection, which would keep your medical providers from sending collection agents after you. Not all providers accept letters of protection, so it may not have been possible to do this for all of your medical providers.

      Assuming that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, you should be ready to settle your UM claim. If you still can’t get in touch with your lawyer after following the advice in the article I referenced above, you should send him a letter informing him that you assume from his lack of communication that he has abandoned your claim and no longer represents you. State that unless you hear otherwise within 10 days, you will hire another attorney. Then just find another lawyer to take your case. You may want to read this article which should help in screening potential new lawyers, so you don’t wind up with another one who’s too busy to handle your case.

  49. Dhruv says:

    I have met my lawyer yesterday. He admitted that deposition bill is very high. I asked how much was otherside lawyer bill for depo and he said it was $350. I am fighting for it, and if they will return then i will give you back. But there and then he wanted to sign settlement. Now my question is, if deposition people return money to my lawyer, do you think he will give me back ? 2nd think I had one medical bill for $300. I have submitted that bill to him during my proceeding. Yesterday when i gave him that bill he said now settlement is done, but i will talk to other side lawyer, and see if then can do anything about it ? after my little upset argument he just take out check book and give me $300 check. Should I think he favour me by giving money or its anyway my clear right to get reimburse for my out of pocket medical bills ?
    pls suggest sir.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      This whole situation with the deposition expense sounds fishy. Did he actually show you the bill from the court reporter? If the court reporter really did overbill and your lawyer paid it, I would expect that he will pay you the difference when he gets reimbursed by the court reporter.

      As to the $300.00 medical bill, it sounds like he just forgot to include it in the distribution and is now paying it for you out of his own pocket to keep you happy (which is a nice thing to do). Technically, he could have just fixed the distribution to take that $300.00 out of your side of the settlement, as you are responsible for your own medical bills and you agreed to the total settlement amount. I doubt that he would try to get his money back from the other side — it’s just not worth it to him.

      So, on the one hand, the deposition issue is cause for concern. On the other hand, your lawyer paying that $300.00 bill out of his own pocket was a nice thing for him to do. Based on the way he handled these two different issues, I really can’t get a good feel for whether he was trying to pull a fast one or if the deposition issue was really a legitimate overbilling mistake.

      It sounds like he knows that you’re unhappy and suspicious, and he’s doing what he can to fix that. We’ll see if that deposition reimbursement comes through. I wouldn’t let the issue go, as it could be a few hundred more dollars. If you know the name of the court reporter, you may be able to get the billing info from them directly, if your lawyer didn’t show it to you.

  50. Derek says:

    thankyou

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