Can My Lawyer Cash My Settlement Check? The truth is revealed in this Article.
If you have been involved in a personal injury case, you may be eagerly waiting for your settlement check to arrive.
However, you may also have some questions about the process, such as:
- Can my lawyer cash my settlement check without my consent?
- How long does it take to receive my settlement check?
- What happens to my settlement check after my lawyer receives it?
In this article, we will answer these questions and more, based on the latest information from reliable sources.
Can My Lawyer Cash My Settlement Check?
The short answer is no.
Your lawyer cannot cash your settlement check on their own.
You must sign the check before your lawyer deposits it into a trust account.
The trust account is a special account owned by the law firm and designated only for settlement funds.
Using a trust account ensures that your lawyer does not commingle client funds with other cash associated with the law firm.
This does not apply if you gave your lawyer a power of attorney to deposit the check on your behalf.
However, this is not a common practice and you should be very careful before granting such authority to anyone.
If your lawyer tries to cash your settlement check without your signature or authorization, they are committing a serious breach of ethics and possibly a crime.
You should report them to the state bar association and seek legal advice from another attorney.
How Long Does It Take to Receive My Settlement Check?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on many factors.
However, a general rule of thumb is that it takes anywhere from 30 days to six weeks from the completion of negotiations to receiving funds.
That said, there are many variables that can influence this timeframe, such as:
- The complexity of the case: If your case involves multiple parties, multiple claims, or multiple jurisdictions, it may take longer to finalize the paperwork and process the payment.
- The cooperation of the parties: If the parties are cooperative and agree on the terms of the settlement quickly, it may speed up the process. However, if there are disputes or delays in signing the release forms or providing other documents, it may slow down the process.
- The availability of the court: If your case requires court approval or supervision, such as in cases involving minors or wrongful death claims, it may take longer to get a hearing date and an order of settlement.
- The method of payment: If the payment is made by wire transfer or electronic funds transfer (EFT), it may be faster than if it is made by check or money order.
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What Happens to My Settlement Check After My Lawyer Receives It?
When your settlement check arrives at the offices of your attorney, it will be deposited into a trust account.
Your lawyer will then disburse funds after the check is paid by the issuing bank.
This could take as long as ten business days.
The more you know about the whole settlement check process, the less frustrating you should find it.
The following table summarizes the steps involved in the settlement check process for personal injury cases:
|Signing of forms||Before settlement funds are released, you must sign a release form that agrees to accept the settlement and releases all claims against the at-fault party.|
|Insurer processes and releases the settlement check||When the insurer receives these signed release forms, they will process them and send the settlement check to your attorney. The check will usually be sent within 7 to 10 business days.|
|Lawyer deposits check into trust account||When your attorney receives your settlement check, they will deposit it into a trust account until the funds are cleared by the issuing bank. This step is required by law to ensure that the money is in place before the law firm sends you the funds.|
|Debts are paid||Your attorney must pay any liens filed against you, such as unpaid medical bills, previous legal fees, and reimbursements to the insurer. Your attorney will also deduct their legal fees from the settlement, according to the contingency fee agreement you signed at the beginning of the case.|
|Balance is sent to you||After paying all the debts and fees, your attorney will send you the balance of your settlement by check or wire transfer. You should receive this within 30 days of your lawyer receiving payment from the at-fault party.|