How Long Does it Take to Receive Settlement Money from a Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
After you have won your personal injury lawsuit, or have settled it before reaching a trial judgment, your next question is probably, “when will I receive my money?” The answer depends on whether there was an insurance company involved, but it usually takes four to six weeks.
It shouldn’t take too long for you to receive your settlement from an injury claim in Pennsylvania unless the defendant has filed an appeal. Victims may receive settlements through structured or lump sum payments, depending on a defendant’s ability. While settling out of court might be quicker than going to trial, victims should know that presenting their case before a judge or jury might result in them claiming greater compensation. Going to court presents the opportunity for additional damages for pain and suffering. Settlements might be delayed for various reasons, and significant delays should be reported to our attorneys.
The Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm can schedule a free case evaluation for you when you call our office at (215) 709-6940.
How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Settle a Claim in Pennsylvania?
Insurance companies in Pennsylvania must typically respond to a claim within a matter of weeks. A negotiation process might follow a claim’s approval, especially if an initial offer from an insurance company is insufficient.
After you file a claim with your own insurance company or a negligent party’s carrier, they must respond relatively quickly. Generally, claimants can expect to hear a response within several weeks. Typically, the first settlement offer from an insurance company will be low, resulting in a negotiation between the carrier and our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers. If both parties want to avoid litigation, this stage of negotiation might be resolved fairly quickly.
Unfortunately, some insurance companies might try to drag out the process and hinder it using bad faith practices. Insurance companies might purposefully communicate poorly with a claimant during discussions or attempt to get a claimant to admit full or partial fault for their injuries so that an insurance company can deny a claim or lower the amount paid to a claimant.
If you sue a negligent party for compensation, negotiations with their insurance carrier might take longer. If a settlement is reached, negotiations will halt, and the matter will be resolved. If negotiations are unsuccessful and a settlement cannot be reached, you may take your case to trial to recover compensation.
Getting Paid After Settling Your Personal Injury Case in Pennsylvania
In some cases, even if you file a lawsuit, our Pennsylvania personal injury attorney and the opposing counsel will reach a settlement agreement before the trial takes place. Often this is done to limit risk and reduce the legal costs that might otherwise affect your net settlement.
If settlement negotiations are successful, the attorneys will report to the court that an agreement was reached. At this point, the court will enter an order of settlement, which will require both sides to file certain documents. The key document is the release from all claims.
The release sets forth all the terms of the settlement, including provisions to protect both sides of the agreement. The document is prepared by the defendant’s attorney, usually the insurance company, and will be forwarded to our office for approval. Our office will carefully review the release with you and object to any language we believe damages your position. Typically, this document will release the defendant from all future claims and mark the matter settled with the agreed amount.
Paying Liens and Fees Before Receiving Money After Agreeing to a Settlement in Pennsylvania
The insurance company will forward a check to our office within three to six weeks after the release is signed. This happens after a case has been settled or if there was a judgment award after a trial.
Before our Norristown personal injury attorney can distribute your share of the proceeds, some administrative payments must be made. First, all medical liens must be paid. Medical liens are held by medical insurers and healthcare providers that paid for your treatment in connection with the personal injury lawsuit. There might be other liens, such as governmental liens for child support, that must be disbursed before you receive your settlement funds.
After all required payments are made, our office will deduct our legal fees and costs from your settlement. Your fees will be determined before your case is filed and will be clearly listed on the fee agreement you sign at the beginning of the case. Some of the costs involved in a personal injury lawsuit include gathering medical documentation, fees for expert witnesses, filing fees, and other court costs. Our office will provide you with an itemized statement listing your total costs. After all necessary expenses are deducted, you will receive the remaining funds from your settlement in Pennsylvania.
How Will I Receive My Settlement in Pennsylvania?
There are two main ways that victims in Pennsylvania will receive a settlement: through a lump sum payment or structured payments. The method through which you recover your settlement will depend on the defendant’s ability.
In injury cases involving insurance companies, lump sum payments are more common. With a lump sum payment, plaintiffs in Pennsylvania will receive the entire settlement or amount awarded at the trial all at once. While this is preferable for many injury victims, especially those with overwhelming medical costs, it is not always possible.
When victims directly sue negligent parties because of a lack of insurance, victims may be more likely to receive a structured settlement. This means that a defendant will pay you the agreed-upon amount or the amount you were granted at trial according to a scheduled payment plan. With structured settlements, victims might get monthly payments over the course of several years.
Whether you receive a lump sum or structured settlement, you should begin to receive some money within several weeks of your case resolving in Pennsylvania. While there are pros and cons to both lump sum and structured settlements depending on a victim’s situation, either will result in you getting your compensatory damages in Pennsylvania.
What Happens to My Injury Settlement if an Appeal is Filed in a Pennsylvania Court?
Suppose you went to court and were awarded damages by a judge or jury in Pennsylvania. In that case, the defendant has the right to appeal the decision and may do so to avoid having to pay you the compensation you deserve.
It is not uncommon for a defendant that loses at trial to appeal the decision. The appeal process could take a long time, depending on the strength of the appeal. On appeal, one of three things could occur: the original judgment is upheld, the judgment is reversed, or the case is sent back to be retried.
If a case is sent back for a new trial, it is possible to appeal that decision as well. This process could drag on for a couple of years. Sometimes, our Poconos personal injury attorney will work to settle a case to avoid the potential of a prolonged appeal process. While this could delay your ability to recover damages from a defendant, it is unlikely that your case will be appealed if fault was clearly proven in the first trial.
How Do You Collect from a Defendant without Insurance?
In most personal injury cases, the defendant has insurance. Unless there are significant assets, our Media, PA personal injury attorney will usually not sue a person without insurance. However, people who do not carry insurance rarely have many valuable assets.
There are cases where a defendant does own substantial personal assets and it is worth following through with a lawsuit. In such a case, the settlement process is similar to working with an insurance company with a few differences. For instance, our law office will insist on a certified check from the defendant to ensure they are capable of paying a settlement before returning a signed release of claims form.
Also, when you receive a civil judgment in Pennsylvania, you get a judgment lien on a defendant’s real estate. Therefore, if you win a personal injury lawsuit against an uninsured person with a house, you will have a judgment lien against it. Unfortunately, it is challenging to collect on this type of judgment lien as there are usually other liens on the property, such as mortgages.
What Happens if My Injury Settlement is Delayed in Pennsylvania?
In most cases, once everything is settled, you should receive your money within six weeks. However, in some situations, the payment is delayed.
If it is taking an unreasonable amount of time to get your settlement check, you should call our Lehigh County personal injury attorney. Our office will be able to investigate why your payment is overdue. For example, there could be a discrepancy with a medical expense that is slowing the distribution of your funds. Other reasons for a delayed settlement include a lack of cooperation from a defendant or a filed appeal. We should be able to determine if there was an unforeseen complication and resolve it.
Should I Settle My Injury Case or Go to Trial in Pennsylvania?
While settling an injury claim out of court can quicken the process for victims, it can also result in an inadequate settlement that doesn’t properly cover the cost of their injuries.
Our attorneys typically advise injury victims in Pennsylvania to take their case before a judge. Settling before going to trial will likely not result in total compensation for victims. For example, compensation for pain and suffering is typically unavailable in settlements, as insurance companies and negligent parties do not want to cover these damages.
When you take your case before a judge or jury, you can present compelling evidence of fault and explain your need for non-economic damages. Punitive damages might also be available with victims going to court instead of settling in Pennsylvania, increasing the compensation victims can recover. Even the threat of going to trial might convince a negligent party to settle at a higher amount. While our lawyers typically do not settle, every case is different, as are each victim’s needs.
You do not have to make the decision to go to trial immediately in Pennsylvania. If you want to explore the possibility of settling, you can do so. If negotiations are not progressing, you can choose to end negotiations with an insurance company or negligent party and go to court. Once you have accepted a settlement, you cannot proceed with a trial, where you might be able to claim greater damages in Pennsylvania.
Often, settlements can be negotiated within a matter of months, whereas trials could take months to years in Pennsylvania. This means you might get your compensation sooner if you settle your case out of court.
That said, settling instead of going to trial shouldn’t be a decision based on when you will get compensation. Although it is understandable that victims want to recover damages as quickly as possible, it might be in your best interest to go through a trial, especially if greater compensation is available from a judge or jury.
Call Our Pennsylvania Attorney to Discuss Getting Paid After a Personal Injury Settlement
Our Gladwyne, PA personal injury attorneys can provide you with a free case evaluation when you call The Reiff Law Firm today at (215) 709-6940.