When someone is injured or killed as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another person, they may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek damages. 

Each state has its personal injury laws and procedures. However, some general steps are common in most states when settling a personal injury claim.

In this blog post, we will look at how personal injury settlements are paid out in California and explore the process and procedures involved in compensating victims through a settlement.


The Step-by-Step Journey of a Personal Injury Settlement Payout in California

A personal injury settlement is an agreement between the parties that resolves the case without going to trial.

Below is a step-by-step guide on going through a personal injury settlement payout in California. Keep in mind that every case and result are unique, and the specific details of your case may vary from what we discuss here.


1. Start by signing the release form.

After you have been in an accident and injuries have been diagnosed, your personal injury lawyer will likely settle your case with the liable party’s insurance company.

Once a proposal is made, your lawyer will go over the details with you and, assuming you approve, will prepare a release form for you and the defendant(s) to sign. This document will release the defendant(s) from any future liability in exchange for their payment of a certain sum.

Both the liable party and the injured person will sign a settlement release form after agreeing on a settlement offer. This legally confirms that the agreed-upon amount will be paid and that no one involved can sue for more money in the future. 

Without signing this form, all responsible parties would still be open to being sued for damages or held liable.

Having a personal injury attorney review this agreement and release form before you sign it is crucial, as it will likely contain language that releases the company from liability even if your injuries turn out to be more severe than initially thought.


2. The insurance company writes a check.

Once you have signed the release form, your lawyer will send it to the insurance company of the liable party or parties. 

The insurance company will then issue a settlement check that will be written under your name.

Your lawyer will review the check once received.

In California, the insurance company must pay and issue a check immediately after all parties agree and accept the settlement claim. The insurer must do this within 30 days from the settlement date.


3. Your personal injury lawyer deposits the check.

Your personal injury attorney will deposit the settlement check into IOLTA—or the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts. This account is for the client’s money, which is still awaiting the case’s final resolution. Only approved financial institutions can have this type of account, and law firms do not earn interest over time.

The settlement proceeds reflected in this check will be used to pay for any outstanding medical bills, liens, and other expenses related to your case.

Once the claim has been accepted, the insurer must pay the claim immediately, but in no event later than 30 days from the date settlement was reached. 


4. Your attorney negotiates the medical bills and other debts.

Before receiving your due compensation, you must take care of any medical bills. Your lawyer can provide legal advice on potential solutions, such as medical liens and how to make the most of your health insurance.

Personal injury attorneys can also negotiate your medical treatment with medical providers, ensuring that you can receive the care and healing while receiving the settlement money you deserve.

The law states that all liens must be fully settled before any settlement funds can be accepted.

By negotiating with liable parties, the attorney ensures that the injured party receives a fair settlement and payout, with all medical expenses are considered. It also looks after the injured party, so they will not be responsible for unpaid debts after the settlement is paid out.

In some cases, the personal injury attorney may be able to negotiate compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress. They can also facilitate a lump sum payment from the liable party or parties that would cover all of your debts—providing a much-needed financial cushion after an accident.


5. You receive your money.

Your lawyer will give you a written invoice, which includes the settlement amount minus liens and legal fees such as attorney’s fees and contingency fees. Once signed off, expect to receive your settlement check promptly via mail.


Settlement Payment Options: Lump Sum or Structured

When you receive a settlement from a personal injury lawsuit, you will generally have two payment options: lump sum or structured.


Lump Sum Payment

With a lump sum payment, you receive the full settlement amount upfront.

Lump-sum settlement gives you the freedom to use the money however you want, but it can also be tempting to overspend or make rash financial decisions. If you’re not good at handling large sums of money, you may want to consider structured payments instead.


Structured Payments

The settlement is paid out in periodic installments with structured payments, typically over 1-5 years.

Structured settlement can be helpful if you need the money to cover medical bills or other expenses over time. The downside is that you may need access to the full amount of your settlement immediately, which could be a problem if you have immediate expenses.


What’s the Better Payment Option?

Ultimately, the best payment option for you will depend on your unique circumstances. Be sure to speak with an attorney or financial advisor before making any decisions about your settlement.


How long does it take for personal injury case settlements to be paid out?

The amount of time it takes to receive a personal injury settlement can vary depending on the case. Although the average case settlement takes between two weeks to five months, your case could take much less or more time to reach a conclusion.

If both parties agree on the settlement, it may only take up to six weeks to process. However, a settlement could take months to reach a final decision if the case goes to trial. In some cases, an appeal may be filed, further delaying the process.

Ultimately, the time it takes to receive a personal injury settlement will depend on the case’s specific details.


What can cause delays in personal injury case settlements?

Several factors play into how long it takes for a personal injury case to settle, including the severity of the injury, the insurance company’s process for settling claims, and the existence of applicable laws. 

However, some common things can cause delays in settlement negotiations.

  1. Incomplete Documentation: The documentation required to prove a claim must be complete and accurate before settlement negotiations begin. If any documents are missing or incomplete, it can slow down the process.
  2. Unclear Liability: To determine who should be held liable for an injury, investigators must determine what happened and who was at fault. If there is any uncertainty about liability, it can take longer to reach a settlement agreement. 
  3. Differing Settlement Amounts: A settlement is often based on the severity of an injury and the potential damages. Disagreement over the amount of compensation the injured party should receive can cause delays in reaching a settlement agreement. Insurance adjusters can also be difficult to deal with as they try to deliberately lower the estimated settlement amount.
  4. Legal Challenges: Depending on the case, legal challenges could be made that could lead to further investigations or court proceedings. This can add time to the settlement process as well.
  5. Liable Party’s Insurance Company Causing Delay: Insurance companies may delay settlement negotiations to reduce the compensation a person receives. In some instances, the insurer might be handling several claims simultaneously or intend to take the settlement to court. An experienced personal injury attorney can help ensure that this doesn’t happen.

When it comes to personal injury cases, it’s essential to be patient and work with experienced professionals who are familiar with settling claims. Doing so will help ensure you receive a fair and timely settlement for your injury. 


Frantz Law Group Can Assist You with Personal Injury Settlements

Although it may seem like a long and complicated process, getting a personal injury settlement payout in California is fairly straightforward. And once you receive the check, you’ll finally be able to put this whole ordeal behind you and move on with your life.

If you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit in California, contact the experienced attorneys at Frantz Law Group for a free consultation. Our legal team of personal injury lawyers can help you through the process and ensure you receive the settlement payout you deserve.

Frantz Law Group is a renowned law firm in California that provides legal assistance to clients throughout the United States. Our law offices house highly qualified personal injury attorneys who strive to establish a trust-based attorney-client relationship and are committed to providing personalized attention, individualized strategies, and prompt communication.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation.