Legal matters take time to file, proceed, and close. Many people only focus on the time the first two stages take, and assume that once the case rules in their favor, everything will be settled then and there. This is not the case, and it may take a great deal of time to receive compensation for damages. Peter Davis & Associates of Paterson, New Jersey provides some insight from a car accident attorney on the realities of car accident cases.
Settlements and Judgments
Depending on how you choose to handle your case, you may receive either an injury settlement or a judgment. Settlements are agreements between two parties that are almost always outside of court, either before a trial or avoiding one entirely. A judgment is an award determined by the court after a trial. The payment deadline in either case is influenced by state laws and other factors and therefore differs from case to case.
Settlements are typically paid out within a month, with penalties being enacted for late payment. Interest is a common penalty, although an agreement may allow the injured party to file a lawsuit if the settlement is not paid within the allotted time. Judgments, however, will usually only be paid after the time limit to make an appeal is passed.
Retrials and appeals are different processes that take vastly different amounts of time. A retrial can be filed a little over a week or two after a jury’s decision, and typically resolves within a few weeks. Appeals have a longer deadline, around a month or two after a verdict is reached. In most cases, damages will not be paid until after these deadlines have passed or until the appeal is resolved, which may take a couple years. Further complicating the matter is that, if filed, the appeal must rule in your favor as well for you to receive damages.
An execution on a judgment describes the act of utilizing a court officer to forcibly obtain the compensation that has been awarded to you. This is rarely necessary with insurance companies, who understand the consequences of late payment and will usually pay out within two to six weeks. Of course, damages are not always paid by insurance companies, and problems are more likely to arise when payment comes from a corporation or individual.
Garnishing as a legal term refers to the act of taking judgment amounts directly out of the losing party’s assets. Corporations are large bodies with many assets, so garnishing a corporation’s bank accounts often results in one lump sum in the hands of the court officer who then proceeds to pay the injured party. In the case of an individual, garnishing wages is a familiar concept where a large percentage of the individual’s wages is taken directly out of each paycheck until the debt has been paid off.
Many other options exist, but they are less common.