How your car accident settlement will be paid out depends in part on the status of the other driver who hit you. If the person you are settling with is uninsured, make sure your agreement is in writing and signed by both parties, not just a verbal agreement between you and the other driver, which may not stand up in court.

Depending on the laws in your state, you may be able to file a lien on the at-fault party’s property or pursue a judgment against the driver either through small claims court or local civil court.

If you are dealing with the other driver’s insurance company, it’s a more straight-forward process. Typically, once you’ve agreed to a settlement amount, the other driver’s insurance company will send you or your attorney a “release” for your signature. In this legally binding document, the insurance company agrees to pay you a stated amount in exchange for your giving up the right to pursue the insurer, or the insured other driver, for any future damages arising out of this particular car accident. In most cases, the insurer will not pay you the amount until it has received back the signed release. But once the release is returned, the insurer will send a settlement check.

If you are represented by an attorney, the check from the insurance company will usually be made out to you and your attorney. Your attorney will deposit the check in a law firm account and will write you a separate check after taking out any of his or her attorney fees and costs.

It’s important to note that in most states, lawyers, doctors and others who are owed money for working on your case get paid first before the balance of the settlement amount is paid to you, the injured party.

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