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SETTLEMENT FAQ

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Can my attorney settle my case without my approval?

 

An attorney cannot settle their client’s case without their client’s approval.  Though the attorney may be a stakeholder in the case, only the client has the authority to settle the case.  This means the attorney needs the client’s approval before communicating an acceptance – or rejection – of any offer for settlement.

After I settle my case, when can I receive a check?

 

There are several steps to a settlement before you can receive a check. 

 

First, settlement paperwork with the defendant must be completed, usually signed and notarized. 

 

Second, all medical and subrogation liens against your case need to be identified and reconciled. 

 

Third, a settlement statement itemizing all of the disbursement need your signed approval before any checks can be cut. 

 

Finally, after the settlement check is received from the insurance company, it can take several days for it to be deposited and the money securely transferred.

What is a General Liability Release?

 

A General Liability Release is a full and complete release of all claims an injured party may have for their injuries. 

 

A plaintiff must sign the General Liability Release in exchange for a full and complete settlement with the at-fault defendant and his insurance company.  The General Liability Release usually includes language releasing any and all claims against any party, so they should only be signed after thoughtful consideration.

What is a Limited Liability Release?

 

A Limited Liability Release is what the plaintiff must sign in exchange for a settlement with an at-fault party and their insurance carrier. 

 

In theory, the Limited Liability Release only “releases” the claims against a specific insurance policy and against the at-fault party, personally.  It is not limited to other insurance policies or parties to the case.  A Limited Liability Release is used when additional insurance is available to cover the claim.

What is a Settlement Statement?

 

A Settlement Statement summarizes all of the disbursement checks related to the final personal injury settlement.  It most often includes an itemization of all attorney’s fees, expenses and costs, medical and subrogation liens, and the final amounts due to the injured plaintiff.  No checks can be written without the client's consent.

Is my settlement taxable?

 

Wheale Law Firm does not handle tax law nor are we accountants, so any tax issues should be taken up with a qualified attorney or accountant. 

 

Generally speaking, compensatory damages are not expected to be taxable because the injured plaintiff is being compensated for what has been taken away from him as a result of the injury.  However, additional awards for damages may be taxable, such as for punitive damages.

Can my settlement affect my eligibility for government benefits?

 

If you receive income-based government benefits such as food stamps or Medicaid, your personally injury has the potential to affect the eligibility for these benefits. 

 

Work-based government benefits, such as Medicare and Social Security Disability, should not be affected by your settlement.  Wheale Law Firm does not employ tax attorneys, so you should consult with an accountant, tax attorney, financial consultant, or all of the above for specific answers in your case.

What is a structured settlement?

 

A structured settlement is when part or all of the settlement amount is paid to the plaintiff over a period of years. Part of the settlement will generally be paid to the plaintiff and his/her lawyer immediately after the settlement as a lump sum, and the rest will be structured over a period of years.

How is the settlement of a minor child’s claim different?

 

A minor child’s claim can be settled by their parent/guardian without further court intervention if the claim is equal to or below $25,000 (previously $15,000).  

 

However, the parent or guardian will be required to sign an affidavit, under oath, that the money will only be used for the child’s benefit.  When the settlement amount exceeds $25,000, the settlement must go through the court process, which could include the appointment of a conservator.

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