Q: If I settle my car accident case out of court, will I be paid right away?
You should not expect to be paid immediately, but in most cases the payment will be reasonably soon.
Generally speaking, you will get the money fastest if you have chosen not to hire an attorney for your Pennsylvania traffic accident case. In fact, the insurance adjuster may be carrying a check payable to you when she first meets you. She knows that seeing a real check with a substantial dollar figure is a nearly irresistible lure to many people. If she can just persuade you to sign a release document, she’ll be glad to hand over the check immediately.
It’s astonishing how many people don’t see through this ploy. When you sign that release document, of course, you permanently give up your right to seek further compensation for your injuries. The face value of that auto accident settlement check is almost certainly far less than you could have secured with more leverage. Studies have found that injured accident victims who have legal representation collect settlements two to four times larger than victims who do not hire lawyers.
Also, when you collect the settlement check directly, you have the responsibility of seeing that the money is distributed properly. If there is a health insurance lien on the settlement because your medical benefits carrier had to pay some of your hospital bills, you will be held responsible for resolving that legal claim. You will have the duty of stretching that one check to pay off all the medical bills—including any charges that have not yet arrived in the mail. Let’s hope you negotiated a great settlement.
Letting Your Legal Representative Handle the Settlement Details
If you hire an attorney to help you manage the settlement from your central Pennsylvania traffic accident case, you will lose the satisfaction of being paid immediately and you will also be obliged to pay a fee to your lawyer. In exchange, you get someone to handle these tasks on your behalf:
- Negotiating with the insurance companies to maximize your settlement amount. Often, your attorney will be able to get a substantially higher settlement amount—enough of an increase, in fact, to more than cover the legal fees.
- Handling all the mail and phone calls relating to your claim.
- Filing a motion with the court to enforce the settlement agreement if the insurance company fails to pay the agreed sum promptly.
- Distributing the settlement money to discharge your legal obligations, such as liens from your health insurance company or from Medicare.
- Negotiating with your health insurer, if necessary, to request forgiveness of any co-payments or deductible amounts you may have accrued.
Here’s the bottom line: lots of our new auto injury clients come to Schmidt Kramer’s Harrisburg offices with a glum, “How much is this gonna cost me?” attitude. Many who collect their settlement checks are astonished that the help of our Harrisburg accident attorneys actually saved them money.
Now, of course every case is controlled by unique circumstances and we cannot make guarantees about your personal settlement, but if you would like to know more about our success stories and endorsements, call us at (717) 888-8888 toll-free to schedule your free, confidential case review.