Unlike auto accidents, a workers’ compensation settlement has to be approved by the Judge of Compensation of Claims. Typically, a client will not receive their money for 45-60 days after both sides agree to the final number. There is nothing our office can do to speed up the process because the judge will sign the settlement paperwork at his or her discretion.
The process is as follows: First, paper work must be drafted by the insurance company’s lawyer. I review the paperwork and make changes as necessary. We then call the client to come by the office and execute the document in front of a notary. Second, the paperwork is sent to the opposing counsel for them to sign. The opposing counsel often will not send the paperwork to the judge until they receive the settlement checks. Third, the paperwork goes to the judge and the judicial assistant will log the paperwork into the data system. The judge’s signed order will be sent to all the parties and the client. Finally, the law gives the insurance company 30 days to pay after the judge signs the paperwork or it will be penalized 20% of the settlement amount.
When the checks come to my office, it will be deposited in my trust account and the funds must stay in the account for 10 days. The client then receives the settlement check and executes a closing statement. Workers’ Compensation settlement checks are tax-free.
I wish the systems was set up for a fast turnaround but this is the law at this time. Please have patience with my staff while the process is evolving.