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Can I Ask My Lawyer for a Copy of My Settlement Check and Final Accounts?


Your lawyer has a heightened duty of care and candor after forming an attorney-client relationship. This video explains everything you need to know.

Video Transcript

“0:01 can my lawyer settle my personal injury

0:02 case without my consent

0:04 if you have an attorney who tries to

0:07 settle your personal injury case without

0:09 your consent he is not only in violation

0:11 of California law he’s in violation of

0:14 his ethical duties as an attorney most

0:16 other states have similar rules but it’s

0:19 universally recognized in all states as

0:21 far as I know that no attorney can

0:24 settle a case without the full

0:26 involvement in consent of his client.”

Your lawyer is your agent and is an employee and accordingly, you certainly can ask that he show you a copy of the settlement check. Your lawyer owes you fiduciary duties to disclose amounts that you have been awarded. Additionally, the insurance company will usually make the check out to you and your attorney as cosigners, so not only are you allowed to see the check, but your attorney will likely have to get you to sign it before it may be cashed.

It would also be a good idea to ask for a copy of EVERY check written by the insurance company to your lawyer to determine if the full amount has been paid.

Working with an experienced personal injury attorney increases your chances of recovering compensation for your loss. When injured victims receive a settlement for their personal injury claims, they also receive a copy of the settlement check.

The sum of all of the checks should total the final settlement amount, if not you may have grounds for bringing a claim against your lawyer for malpractice.

How the Settlement Check Process Works in a Personal Injury Case

Agreeing on a settlement amount with the insurance company is part of the personal injury lawsuit or claim process. However, once there is mutual agreement on the settlement amount between your attorney and the defense attorney, you must go through a settlement check process. 

Your attorney will help you handle most of the process and the legal obligations after the insurer issue the personal injury settlement check.

Once you are awarded a settlement for your personal injury case, you will need to decide how you want to receive it, either a lump sum payment or a structured settlement.

The insurance company will issue your check within 30 days of the settlement agreement. The check would be in your and your attorney’s or law firm’s names.

Unless you have given your attorney a Power of Attorney to deposit the check into your account on your behalf, you will need to endorse the check first. 

The law firm will deposit the settlement funds into their escrow account, which is an account that the lawyer must maintain to keep client funds separate from their own.

Before the attorney can distribute settlement proceeds, the check must first clear into the escrow account.

Your Attorney Will Satisfy Your Medical Lien by Paying the Insurance Company First

If your health insurance provider has paid for your medical treatment, you cannot keep all the settlement money. 

Your insurer will have priority over your settlement check for unpaid medical bills and the amount they paid to cover your medical expenses. If there is a lien, your attorney will review medical records and verify the lien before processing the health insurer their due payment.

Your Attorney Might Payout Other Fees from the Settlement Check

Besides paying the insurance company for the medical bills they covered for you, your attorney will have to pay other fees, including court fees and payment to witnesses, if any.

Your Attorney Has a Right to Receive a Percentage from the Personal Injury Claim

Most attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they don’t take any upfront payment unless they successfully fight your personal injury claim resulting in a settlement check.

Before signing a contract with your attorney, they would’ve mentioned the terms and conditions they will be working on, including the percentage they would receive from your settlement amount as part of attorney’s fees.

After deducting the attorney’s fee, you will receive a final check for the remaining balance.

An Insurance Company May Handle Large Settlement Agreement Differently

In personal injury cases where there are large settlements, the insurance company may request to process that payout through an annuity, allowing them to spread the payments to the plaintiffs over a period of time.

If that happens, the first check will go to the attorney, who will settle all medical bills and expenses, including legal fees.

Once the final accounting is complete, the plaintiff has no other obligations and will be in an arrangement with the insurer, who will make direct payments until they cover the entire settlement amount.

Can I Ask My Lawyer for a Copy of My Settlement Check and the Final Accounting?

Your attorney or law firm will provide you with a settlement check copy and the final accounting. If they don’t, you may have a cause for legal action against the firm as they have been hired to look out for your best interest, and handling the money is part of it.

Do I Need to Pay Taxes on My Settlement Funds?

Physical injury awards are usually nontaxable, even if the settlement check covers lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. However, the only exception is punitive damages, which are taxable. 

You will only receive punitive damage if the case goes to court and the judge awards it, not in a settlement check.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law Firm

If you suffered injuries in an accident that was not your fault, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as you may qualify for a settlement.

Our experienced personal injury lawyer works with complete transparency, ensuring you remain updated throughout the claims and personal injury settlement process.

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Los Angeles, CA 90071
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