How Is A Personal Injury Settlement Distributed?

Posted on: 9 August 2016

If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit and are expecting the court to award you with a large settlement amount, you may be wondering how much of this money you will actually receive. It can take years for a case to settle, and it can take months afterwards for you to collect the money you were awarded for your damages and injuries. As your case comes to a close, here are a few things you should understand about the way your lawyer will distribute your settlement proceeds.

Lawyer Will Take Contingency Fees

When the court announces the final settlement amount, your lawyer will have the right to take his or her percentage from this total amount. This percentage is called the contingency fee, and it is something you will agree to when you hire your lawyer. The average percentage used for personal injury cases is between 33% to 40%. This means at least one-third of the settlement amount will go directly to your lawyer for handling your case.

You should realize that you will never see the entire settlement amount, because the check will typically be sent to the lawyer. Once the lawyer gets this check, he or she will take the fee owed and will then begin disbursing the remainder of the funds appropriately.

Medical Bills Are Then Paid

During the case, your lawyer will be keeping track of your medical bills, and he or she will rely on you to make sure they are all turned in and accounted for. These bills must be paid from the settlement amount, and your lawyer will handle doing this for you as soon as the settlement check arrives.

Because personal injury cases can last for years, you may want to make sure your lawyer works out arrangements with the medical providers to ensure that these debts are not placed negatively on your credit report. Lawyers do this by writing Letters of Protection (LOP) to all the medical providers you owe money to. An LOP lets each provider know that you are in the middle of a lawsuit and the bills will be paid as soon as the settlement comes. These letters typically stop medical providers from pursuing these debts, which means you should not be receiving phone calls or marks on your credit report for them.

Other Expenses From The Case Must Be Paid

There is also a chance you may owe other debts that need to be paid from your settlement amount. One example of this is paying for a professional who offered expert testimony in your case. These experts can charge anywhere from $50 to $400 per hour for their services. If you hired one for several hours, the amount you owe may be well over $1,000, depending on the fees charged. Expenses like this will also be paid by your lawyer from your settlement check.

You Will Get The Remainder

Your lawyer will prepare an expense report sheet that will show the amount you collected for the settlement as well as every expense that was paid out of this money. Whatever money is left after paying all the expenses will be yours to keep. You may be able to get this money in the form of a lump-sum payment, or you might want to choose a structured settlement so you can divide the settlement into payments you will receive over a certain number of years.

If you have any questions about personal injury lawsuits or how the settlements work, you may want to call a personal injury lawyer like Jack W Hanemann, P.S. in your area to schedule a consultation appointment.