What is a Structured Settlement?
Simply put, a structured settlement is a financial arrangement where all (or at least some) of the money you are owed from a legal settlement is paid out in regular installments over an agreed-upon period of time. It is designed to provide long-term financial security for the recipient by providing a steady stream of income.
Structured settlements are often used in cases where the injured party is unable to work or has significant medical expenses. By providing regular payments, structured settlements help ensure that the recipient has a stable income to cover their standard cost of living, medical bills, and any other financial obligations they may have.
In other words, a structured settlement is theoretically structured to benefit the recipient (you, for example) based on your long-term needs (and if your needs change and you need your cash more quickly, JG Wentworth can help by purchasing your payments for a lump sum of cash!)
How Does a Structured Settlement Work?
As we noted, the parties who are set to receive payments from a structured settlement can expect them to be provided regularly according to the agreed-upon schedule. These payments might arrive monthly, quarterly, annually, or based on whatever intervals are outlined in the legal agreement.
It's important for you to understand that it is nearly impossible to change a structured settlement’s payment schedule once it’s established. Remember: a structured settlement is a binding legal agreement, and any changes would require the consent of all parties involved.
What Can Slow Down My Structured Settlement Payments?
There are lots of factors that can affect how long it will take for you to settle your legal claim and set up an associated structured settlement. For example:
Insurance Companies play a huge role in most structured settlements because they fund most of them. The time it takes to receive your settlement can be influenced by how fast the insurance company in question can speed through their settlement procedures and their willingness to negotiate and reach an agreement quickly.
The legal process specific to your situation can also dictate how long you’ll be waiting for your cash. Litigation can be a long and complicated process, and waiting times often vary based on the circumstances of your case and your court system's backlog.
The complexity of your case itself can also slow things down. Cases involving serious injuries or disputes over liability may require more time to investigate, assess damages, and decide on a fair settlement than less intense cases would.
What’s The Typical Timeline for Receiving a Structured Settlement?
Based on what you’ve read so far, we think you get the point: no two experiences with settling a legal claim are alike, and neither are their timelines until you receive your structured settlement agreement. Regardless, understanding the key steps in the structured settlement process will at least help you understand how things are progressing, so let’s review the basics:
- Drafting the Agreement - Once all parties agree on the basics, the first step is to draft a structured settlement agreement. This document states the proposed payment schedule, the amount of each payment, and all the other relevant details. Once the agreement has been written, it needs to be approved by all parties involved.
- Court Review – If your legal claim is being settled through the court system, the court may review (and hopefully approve) it to confirm that it is fair, logical and in the best interest of the settlement recipient. As we mentioned above, the wait time for this stage can greatly vary based on the court's schedule and workload.
- Receiving the Settlement Payout - Once your agreement has finally been approved by the court, your payments will begin according to the schedule outlined in your settlement agreement and structured settlement.
How to Speed Up the Settlement Process
While you may be eager to begin receiving your settlement, the length of the preceding process may be largely out of your hands. In most cases, patience truly will be a virtue. However, there are a few tactics that just might make things a wee bit quicker for you.
Want to prevent delays throughout the process? Be certain that all necessary documentation and paperwork are complete, accurate and easy to find.
Want to turbocharge your process with professional expertise? A knowledgeable attorney can help negotiate with insurance companies, protect your legal rights and fight efficiently for your best interests, all while saving you time.*
Want to negotiate the fairest agreement possible?
Opening yourself up to negotiation with the responsible party or their insurance company can usually help speed things up. By demonstrating a willingness to compromise, you can hopefully reach an agreement sooner rather than later.*