After their Iowa personal injury claim has been settled, one of the most common questions we hear from our clients is “When will I receive my settlement money?”
The Settlement Check Will Not Arrive Right Away
This is an understandable question. As personal injury attorneys, we understand that you have likely been waiting for compensation for your injuries for quite a while now – sometimes years. You may think you will receive your settlement money within a few days of the settlement, but that is not the case. Even though your personal injury claim has been decided in your favor, it could be another month or more before your receive your settlement check.
Settlement Releases Have to Be Signed First
There are a few reasons you won’t receive your settlement money immediately. Once you settle, there is paperwork that needs to be created and agreed upon by both parties. This includes a release. A release is a document that lays out the terms of the settlement and officially settles your claim. It also says that you can’t sue the insurance company again for your injuries for this claim. Once everyone agrees to the terms of the release, you will be required to sign it and send it back.
After the release has been signed, your settlement check will be dispersed to your attorney’s office. If you have used a personal injury attorney to settle your claim, it is unlikely that you will receive the check yourself.
If you settle a claim in Iowa, your attorney’s office will deposit the settlement money into a “trust account” until the check has cleared. This trust account is a special bank account that all lawyers are required to use by the Iowa State Bar Association. It’s where client funds or property is kept. This is kept separate from any other firm or lawyer account. An attorney cannot take money out of this account for him- or herself until that money has been earned.
Any Liens against the Lawsuit Get Paid First
One of the duties of an attorney is to disperse the settlement money to any liens that have been made against the lawsuit. Liens must be paid off before you receive the remainder of your settlement money. These liens can include:
- Any medical bills that have not yet been paid
- If your own insurance has paid your medical bills, they will now be reimbursed
- If Medicare or Medicaid has paid your medical bills, they will now be reimbursed
The attorney will also take out their fee at this time. In Iowa, attorney fees are agreed upon in the paperwork you signed when you first hired them. The majority of personal injury attorneys work on this “contingent fee” basis. Out-of-pocket expenses and miscellaneous costs are also deducted.
After all of this, you will receive a check from your attorney with the balance of the settlement. As you can see, it is a complicated process to receive the settlement money you are owed. An experienced personal injury attorney can make the process easier.
If you have any questions about the settlement process, contact RSH Legal today at 1-319-774-1542.