How do I get paid in a personal injury case?
Just exactly how do I get paid in a personal injury case?
It's pretty simple. Let's give two examples.
One would be if you settle a case before you ever have to go to court. And the second would be if you go to court.
In the case of a settlement, let's say that I'm representing somebody, and the other side has negotiated with us for a long time, and we finally come to a settlement of $100,000. What happens next?
What usually happens is the insurance company that I'm negotiating with has to order that check. The check is usually made out to my law firm and also to the person I'm representing. It takes 5, maybe 10 days to get a check from an insurance company after we've reached a written agreement. After the check comes in, we have to both endorse the check the person I'm representing and my office.
Then we have to deposit that check in a trust account. Every lawyer in Colorado has a trust account. That's an account that you only put in your client’s money into it and you put the check in the Trust account because it has to clear that account and there has to be no chance anything could bounce on a Trust account. So, under State Law, under bank regulations and under Federal Law, there are different rules about how long a check needs to stay put and be in a trust account until it clears.
To be as safe as possible, I use 10 days and once the check has been in our trust account for 10 days then we disperse the check. Usually, this dispersement is written on my trust account and it is approved by my clients, so I'll have a dispersement agreement that says, OK, the $100,000 in the bank, here's how much it's gonna come out for attorneys fees. Here's how much we're going to pay to one of the doctors that treated you that wanted to be paid directly from your settlement. Here's how much that you ask us to pay for obtaining your medical records and your medical bills and then. Here's the amount of gross minus all the expenses. Here's the net amount that you're going to get as the client when everything's over.
Only when we have a written agreement to that entire dispersement do we cut any checks, and most law firms will follow a similar procedure.
This is the part where we discuss what happens if you go to court. When do you get paid?
Well, to keep it simple, let's just put it this way. Almost every case settles.
Some just settle before a jury verdict, some settle after, some settle on appeal. In rare cases, you have to go enforce a judgment against somebody. I'm not going to talk about enforcing a judgment. That is grounds for a whole other video.
But really what usually happens is sometimes after you've picked a jury, maybe even before a verdict or on appeal, you settle a case after each side has decided they've done all the arguing they can do. They know pretty much what the results going to be. They're going to buy their peace and they're going to settle the case. When that happens, it's a lot like settling before you ever went to trial. You've reached a negotiated amount. Let's say it's $200,000.
It's always the same story. The insurance company now suddenly has to order the check. And it's true, they really do have to get the check from the main insurance company. And that check is usually mailed to the defense attorney that represented the insurance company in the trial. Then that attorney will call my office and say, hey, we got your check. We know you were waiting for it. Do you want us to mail it to you or would you like - would you like to come get it?
If the checks in Denver and I'm in Boulder and it's a large amount, I usually just go and get it so that I can put it in my trust account and then the clock can start ticking on how long it has to stay in my trust account before it can clear and then we can disperse it to the client. It usually takes 10 days from the time we put it into a trust account until we disperse it.
And just like settling before trial, we only disperse money when we've reached a written agreement as to what amounts are going to be dispersed, both to the client, to the lawyers and to any healthcare providers or other third-party vendors that we've had to pay for expenses in the case.
So, I'm Chris Parks. And I hope that’s some help to you.