If you live in Florida, and some person or entity harms you, then you might feel you should sue them. If they say they didn’t hurt you or you didn’t sustain a severe injury, like you claim, then you must prove your case in court.
You might eventually get a settlement offer if it seems as though you’re winning your case. If the defendant won’t settle, then you must proceed to the jury’s decision. Hopefully, it goes in your favor.
If you win your lawsuit or get a settlement offer that you accept, you know that you’ll get a settlement check at some point. You may not feel sure how or when that happens, though.
We will discuss that in detail now.
Getting Your Settlement Check
The question of how are settlement checks mailed might preoccupy you after you win your lawsuit or after you accept a settlement offer. After all, you probably need that money badly. You must use part of it to pay your lawyer. They will likely get a sizeable chunk, up to 40%, in some cases.
You can usually keep the rest of that money, and you might need it for things like medical bills. You might need it for car repairs if you just settled a car accident lawsuit. You can use the remainder for paying your rent, mortgage payments, grocery bills, utility bills, and so forth.
If you missed work for some time during the trial or during your recovery process, you’ll need that check as well. Presumably, you didn’t have money coming in from your job unless you worked from home during your recovery.
Every state has different laws regarding how fast you can get your settlement check. In Florida, the entity that settled with you or who lost the lawsuit must mail the settlement check within 20 days. In other words, they must have it in the mail headed your way within 20 days after the judgment against them or the settlement offer they made and to which you agreed.
What About Settlements that Happen Without a Trial?
You might also have a situation where you and an entity or individual who harmed you sit down with your lawyers, just not in a courtroom setting. You can hire an arbiter, usually a former judge or someone who knows the law very well. They can help you figure out who is at fault and how much money the defendant should pay the injured party.
These settlements can happen out of court sometimes if you and the party who harmed you both operate in good faith. If the entity or person who hurt you agrees they will meet with you outside of a courtroom setting with an arbiter there, they probably agree that they caused your injury or illness.
If they don’t think you can blame them, then they’ll likely wait till you officially file the lawsuit. At that point, the defendant must appear in court.
Why Would You Settle Out of Court?
If you and the defendant seek a settlement through arbitration outside of a courtroom, that can save both resources and money. A lawsuit takes time and energy. You must usually appear in court for several days, particularly in more complicated cases.
The defendant might also feel like settling out of court makes more sense because if they do that, they will likely pay their lawyer less money. The lawyer won’t charge as many billable hours, and the defendant probably wants that.
If they’re in the wrong, they’re already paying you some money. They would prefer not to spend any more on lawyers than they must.
What Happens if You Settle?
In Florida, the defendant must send you the settlement check within 20 days, regardless of whether they lose a lawsuit in court or settle outside of it. Of course, they may also just cut you a check and hand it to you after you conclude the mediation process outside a courtroom. They have no legal obligation to do so, though.
Aside from the settlement check that’s coming your way, you and the defendant must also both sign the final settlement paperwork. This statement indicates that the party that harmed you accepts responsibility and also that you agreed they would pay a particular sum.
Once you’ve both signed and the lawyers witness that, you can’t decide later that the defendant didn’t pay you enough. That’s why you should feel sure you’ve taken an acceptable amount.
If the money runs out later, and you feel like you need more for your pain and suffering, you can’t sue the person or entity who harmed you again. You’ve concluded the case, and the signed statement indicates that.
In many cases, you’ll also sign a confidentiality clause that your lawyer will produce during one of these out-of-court settlement meetings. That means you can’t discuss how much you got, and you probably can’t discuss certain other details surrounding the case as well.
You should also understand that the defendant’s lawyer may send a check on their client’s behalf. They may send that check to your lawyer rather than to you. The 20-day stipulation still applies, though, under the law.
Your lawyer may go through some additional steps before you get that money. First, they will likely deposit the funds into an escrow account while the check clears. Then, they will pay any liens that exist. You might have some medical liens against you if you have outstanding medical bills following your accident or illness, if applicable.
The lawyer will also pay any subrogation bills that a health insurance company filed. Then, they will take their cut. Presumably, you agreed that the lawyer or law firm you hired would get a certain percentage if they helped negotiate a settlement for you.
After all that, you will get what money remains. Hopefully, it’s enough so that you can resume your life without very much difficulty or undue hardship.