As a general matter, settlement checks issued by an insurance company can take weeks to receive. The insurance company often require they receive all the settlement documents before they cut the check. Once they cut the check, it must be mailed to your attorney. Your attorney must then do an accounting, deposit it into a trust account, and only after that check has cleared will your attorney be able to issue you a check. In Washington, it can take 2-6 weeks for a client to receive their settlement, depending on who the insurance company is. I would recommend that you contact your attorney and ask exactly what is holding up the check. Your attorney should be able to give you a reason as to the holdup. If your attorney keeps saying they have not received the check, ask them why and ask them to followup with the entity responsible for issuing the check.
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I agree that it may take two weeks, although I have received settlement checks in less than a week, which makes me wonder why the insurer is so eager to pay out. It may take as long as a month, although in MA it is considered an unfair claims settlement practice if settlement proceeds are not delivered to the lawyer within a reasonable time which, absent complications, is commonly held to be 30 days.
"Complications" could include liens from medical providers, workers compensation providers or prior counsel. Medicare liens are particularly problematic and can easily delay disbursement for more than 60 days. However, the attorney should be readily able to inform the client of any such complications, or their existence should be obvious to the client
Although not every insurance company in NJ does this, many of them send you a notice advising you that they have sent the check to your lawyer. In fact, due to the differences in mail delivery, many times my clients have received that letter before I have actually received the check from the insurance company. I dislike insurance companies sending that letter since it has caused a few of my clients, who I have helped out for the last few years, start to wonder whether I am being honest with them when I say I don’t have the check.
To reassure them, and you, I tell them that the insurance company check is made out to them and my law firm – I can’t deposit it without their signature, and if I can’t deposit, I can’t get paid either. I tell them just like they want the settlement money that I have worked for 1, 2, 3 or more years without payment, and I would want to get paid as well.
I even kid a little – tell them that I give my secretaries and paralegals long list of To-do’s – but they all know, that once an insurance check comes in – that gets sent right to the top of the list as an absolute priority – get the client notified, get the check signed, and get it deposited.
Unfortunately, there are some insurance companies that delay sending out checks, and there is a NJ statute that puts a limit on the time they can wait, but most of the time, the effort and time it takes to file a request with the Court to compel the insurance company to send the check – takes longer than just waiting another few days, or even an extra week or so, for the check to come in.
As a rule of thumb, I normally tell clients the process will take about 30 days from the day that the insurance company gets the settlement papers – that I have some insurance companies, although rare, take as long as 6 weeks, and anything longer than that and I will consider filing a request with the court to compel payment.
Each case is fact senstive, so all answers should be viewed as general advice only, and should never replace a thorough and in depth consultation with an experienced attorney. Further, an answer should not be seen as establishing an attorney-client relationship.
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