Personal Injury Settlements

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Once your personal injury case settles, it's not over until it's over. It's over when the attorney can disburse the funds to the client. What happens up to that point can be complicated, work intensive and frequently frustrating for all concerned.

When the case settles or there is an anticipated settlement, frequently there are medical liens that must be resolved. This involves your attorney negotiating a lien resolution with the lien holder. This case be a governmental lien holder (Medicare, Medicaid), a private lien holder such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, or a worker's compensation lien holder. These liens must be addressed in resolving a case. Frequently reductions in the liens are obtained by our office in these negotiations.

When there are minor children involved, a whole other set of issues arise. Frequently an ad litem attorney is required to look out for the best interest of the child, and a minor's settlement hearing is required by the court. The funds are usually placed in a trust account for the child, either with the court or in a private fund. The funds usually are not available to the child until the child turns 18 years of age. If the funds are substantial, there are terms available that will protect the child when the funds become available. Annuities are frequently used if the funds are substantial for a minor child. The parent of the child may also be reimbursed for expenses related to the child's injury.

Once your case is reaching a settlement agreement, if the case is in litigation, releases must be formalized with opposing counsel. Frequently there is a back and forth on the terms of the release. If the claim is resolved prior to filing suit, the same process is required with the insurance carrier. The release is important for all concerned, and at times the process can get complicated.

Cases that settle at mediations will have a written, enforceable agreement. The mediation agreement will basically be an outline of the formal agreement that will follow. The mediation agreement should contain the basic terms of the settlement, including the amount, who gets the funds, who's paying the funds, when the payment should be paid and when the settlement documents should be completed. People get tired in mediations, attorneys, the parties, insurance representatives and the mediator. It is important to get the appropriate information in the mediation agreement so there are not any disputes following the mediation when you think you have a deal.

One of the most important stages of the entire process is getting the settlement funds disbursed. The insurance carrier has to issue a check. This part can get frustrating. The carrier needs to be bound by a deadline so that the payment doesn't get delayed. Attorneys put insurance settlement checks in a trust account, and then disburse the client's portion of the recovery to the client. At times banks will place a hold on the trust account settlement check deposits, so that's another issue to deal with. At times the client's bank will put a hold on the settlement check issues to the client, so that's another matter.

Our office is very experienced in dealing with all aspects of resolution of a case once a settlement agreement is contemplated. The steps involved can get beyond complicated and frustrating, but it's a process to work through to get final resolution of the matter.