My Personal Injury Case Has Settled, Now What?
Many personal injury cases settle before or during trial. When that happens, that does not mean that your involvement in the case has concluded as there are several steps necessary before the settlement can be finalized and payment received.
In New York, for a settlement to be effective, it must be memorialized in an accepted legal way pursuant to CPLR Section 2104. This usually consists of a written agreement between the parties signed by the parties or their attorneys, or it can involve a settlement made in open court, normally on the record and memorialized by a court reporter via a typewritten transcript.
Once this first step is completed, other steps must be taken and kept in mind:
- Your attorney needs to prepare certain paperwork in order to complete the settlement. This paperwork could include a Release, written approval from any lien holders, written approval from other involved insurance carriers, possibly a Confidentiality Agreement, resolution of any Medicare/Medicaid/Workers Compensation issues, Surrogates Court approval, structured settlement agreements, etc. These documents can be prepared by your attorney, but often they are prepared by attorneys for the insurance carriers or lien-holders.
- You will have to sign certain documents and have them notarized You will have to go to the attorneys' office and sign before a notary or go to a notary on your own. The time for a party to pay the proceeds of a settlement will not start to run until the completed paperwork is provided to your attorney so the paperwork can be forwarded to the necessary parties.
- Once the paperwork is properly completed and forwarded, the time for payment begins to run. This time will generally be governed by laws of New York, but this can be modified depending upon the circumstances of the case. Ask you attorney when payment can be expected and go over what expenses will be deducted and how much the attorneys' fee will be. If you have any questions or issues, now is the time to go over them.
- When the settlement check arrives, your attorney should notify you, The check will normally be payable to the law firm and to the client. The check will have to be endorsed by all payees and deposited into the attorneys' escrow account until it clears. From this account, the attorney will recoup expenses and their legal fee. You will then be issued a check for your share of the settlement proceeds.
- You need to deposit your settlement proceeds into your bank account. If the check is on behalf of a minor, an account must be set up for this purpose.
- Be careful and smart with the money. This money was paid as compensation for injuries sustained due to negligence or another tortious act. It is not a winning lottery ticket. You may need this money to purchase private health insurance, modify your home to make it easier to live, purchase a vehicle to accommodate your injuries or any host of other reasons.
- The settlement of your case is private and your business. If you wish to tell others about it, that is, of course, up to you, but care is warranted. It goes without saying that there are unscrupulous people in our world. A settlement is only your business unless you choose otherwise. In some cases, depending upon the amount of the settlement, prudence dictates that you should consult with a reputable financial advisor to assist with the management of the money to insure your needs are met and if there are any tax ramifications.
This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but just guidelines as to what to expect. You should always follow the advice of your attorney if you have any questions about the settlement of your case.
If you or a loved one have suffered serious injuries or death as a result of the negligence of another person or company, the attorneys at Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool will give you a free consultation to determine your legal options. To see if you have grounds for a claim, call 212-406-1700 or contact us online.