How Long Can an Attorney Hold Your Settlement Check

How Long Can an Attorney Hold Your Settlement Check?

When you hire an attorney to help you with a personal injury claim or any other legal matter that may result in a settlement, you may wonder how long they can hold your settlement check. It’s essential to understand the process and your rights as a client, as well as the factors that may affect the timeline for receiving your settlement funds. In this article, we will discuss the duration an attorney can hold your settlement check and answer some frequently asked questions regarding this matter.

The Settlement Check Process

Before delving into the specifics of how long an attorney can hold your settlement check, let’s first understand the general process of receiving a settlement check. When a personal injury claim is settled, the responsible party or their insurance company issues a check to the attorney representing the injured party. This check typically includes the agreed-upon settlement amount, minus any legal fees, costs, or outstanding medical bills that need to be paid. The attorney then holds the check in their trust account until all necessary deductions are made.

After deducting their fees and any other expenses, the attorney will provide you with a detailed settlement statement outlining all the deductions. You will have to review and sign this statement before the attorney can disburse the settlement funds. Once you have approved the statement, the attorney will distribute the remaining funds to you.

How Long Can an Attorney Hold Your Settlement Check?

The duration an attorney can hold your settlement check can vary depending on several factors. The most significant factor is the time it takes to resolve any outstanding liens or medical bills related to your case. If there are medical providers or other entities with a right to be reimbursed from your settlement, your attorney must ensure that these obligations are satisfied before distributing the funds to you.

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Additionally, attorneys often wait until the settlement check clears in their trust account before disbursing the funds. This process can take a few business days or longer, depending on the bank and other financial factors. Therefore, it is crucial to be patient during this stage, as your attorney is following the necessary procedures to protect your interests and ensure a smooth financial transaction.


Q: Can an attorney hold my settlement check indefinitely?
A: No, an attorney cannot hold your settlement check indefinitely. They have a legal and ethical obligation to promptly distribute the funds once all necessary deductions have been made.

Q: What if my attorney is delaying the disbursement of my settlement funds?
A: If you believe your attorney is unreasonably delaying the disbursement of your settlement funds, it is important to communicate your concerns with them. Ask for a clear explanation regarding the reasons for the delay. If the situation remains unresolved, you may consider filing a complaint with your local bar association or seeking legal advice from another attorney.

Q: Are there any legal restrictions on how long an attorney can hold my settlement check?
A: While there are no specific laws dictating the exact duration an attorney can hold your settlement check, they are expected to act in a timely manner. If an attorney unreasonably withholds your settlement funds, it may be considered a violation of their fiduciary duty and could lead to disciplinary action.

Q: Can I request an advance on my settlement funds before the disbursement?
A: Depending on your agreement with your attorney, you may be able to request an advance on your settlement funds for immediate financial needs. However, it is essential to discuss this possibility with your attorney to understand the terms and potential consequences.

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In conclusion, the duration an attorney can hold your settlement check depends on various factors, including the resolution of outstanding liens and medical bills. While it is vital to be patient during this process, if you feel your attorney is unreasonably delaying the disbursement, it is crucial to address your concerns and seek appropriate action if necessary. Remember, your attorney has a legal and ethical obligation to act in your best interests, ensuring a fair and timely distribution of your settlement funds.