This post could also be titled: “How long does it take until I get paid after the case is settled?”
A rather angry man called me and vented his frustration at his attorney. He had signed settlement contracts more than two months ago, but not only has he not been paid yet, his attorney recently told him that the settlement was on hold because the insurance company wanted more information.
After talking to him for a while, I believe I pieced together what happened. The case wasn’t really settled. Instead, the attorney used the “strategy” of getting his client to sign a settlement contract, telling the injured worker that yes the case was settled and then sent that signed contract to the insurance adjuster with the hopes that they’d sign it too.
On the one hand, insurance companies do like to settle cases at the end of the year. On the other hand, it’s insulting to an adjuster to send them a contract and imply that it’s take it or leave it, especially when you ask for more than the case is worth.
The biggest mistake of course was lying to the client and telling him the case was over. He pissed off his client and the other side. It would have been so much smarter and simpler to just pick up the phone and negotiate a settlement. If you don’t talk to the adjuster or defense attorney it’s hard to get a read on them and learn what leverage you may or may not have.
In fact, I can’t imagine trying to settle a case without talking to the other side. There is so much you can learn and you’ll get MORE MONEY in almost every situation. But to send a contract in the hopes they bite is silly and to lie to your client about it is dumb, especially when you are asking for the moon.
We believe that every case is a partnership. We are direct and honest with you, you need to do the same with us. When it comes time to settle your case, if that’s best for you, we discuss with you what we think we should ask for, what a reasonable amount would be and what the strategy is. Sometimes you get to know an adjuster or defense attorney as a straight shooter and ask for the value of the case. Other times you ask for more to give yourself room to negotiate.
In every case though you should do an actual negotiation that doesn’t waste anyone’s time and is part of a plan with your client. The goal for the client is to get them a settlement when the time is right. Not to play a game that ends up making the client wait too long.
P.S. How long does it take to get paid after a case is settled? Typically the defense attorney prepares a settlement contract and signs it, sends it to your lawyer who signs it and then sends it to you to sign. That process takes 2-4 weeks typically. After that your lawyer submits the contract to an Arbitrator for approval which should take a week or so. After that the approved contracts are sent to the insurance company and you should be paid in 2-4 weeks. So 5-9 weeks total, with around six being average. I’ve seen it as fast as a few days though.