You’ve done it. Through either a settlement agreement or a verdict at trial, with the help of your lawyer you have won your personal injury claim. You even have a signed piece of paper to prove it. So, what happens next?
Collecting a Settlement
If you entered into a settlement agreement, as far as collecting the amount you are owed, this is typically the best-case scenario. The other party (or, more commonly, its insurance company) has accepted liability, and they have agreed to pay you in order to close the case without going to trial. Most insurance companies will pay settlements within a few weeks of agreeing to settle, and settlement agreements will generally specify a due date for payment.
Collecting a Court Verdict
If you won your case at trial, this means that a judge has issued a verdict stating that the other party is legally obligated to pay you for your losses. Some defendants will voluntarily pay once the trial is over; however, in many cases, collecting on a verdict can become a challenge. There are two main hurdles that need to be overcome.
First, if the court issues a judgment in your favor, the other party will typically have the right to file an appeal. Appeals can take time, and the outcomes can range from confirmation of the trial court’s judgment to an order for retrial.
Second, just because a court tells someone to pay does not mean that they will voluntarily do so. Insurance companies do not typically ignore court judgments, but if your award includes amounts either above or outside of the defendant’s insurance coverage, you may have a more difficult time recovering your verdict. Fortunately, the law provides a number of “post-judgment” remedies, and at Morrow & Sheppard LLP our Houston lawyers are experienced in using these remedies aggressively to collect amounts owed for our clients’ personal injury claims.
Contingency Fees, Medicare, Supplemental Security Income and Taxes
Once you have collected your settlement or verdict, it is important to be aware that you may have some financial obligations as a result of your award.
- Contingency Fees – If your lawyer took your personal injury claim on contingency, you will owe a percentage of your award as legal fees. If your lawyer advanced the expenses of your case (as we do here at Morrow & Sheppard LLP), you will need to pay back these expenses out of your award as well.
- Medicare – If you used Medicare to pay your medical bills, you will be required to provide reimbursement for the amounts paid on your behalf.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – If you are an SSI recipient, your personal injury award will count toward your income and affect your SSI payments until it is spent down.
- Taxes – While most personal injury settlements and court awards are not subject to tax, some are. You can read more about the tax implications in our earlier article: Is My Settlement Taxable?
In any case, your lawyer should be able to help you understand your obligations and make sure that you meet your legal obligations following the resolution of your claim.
Morrow & Sheppard LLP | Experienced Houston Injury Lawyers
Morrow & Sheppard LLP is a Houston, TX personal injury law firm serving clients throughout Texas and the entire Gulf Coast area. If you have been injured at work or as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.