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When a settlement check is sent by the insurance company, why is the law firm name and my name on it together?


A: First, when an insurance company sends a settlement check to an attorney, the insurance company is obligated by law to notify the plaintiff (our client) that they are sending the check to the lawyer. The attorney receives the check soon afterward, and asks the client to come into the office to endorse (sign) the check. In some cases, it is not possible for the client to travel to the attorney's office. In that instance, an attorney can ask the client for permission to endorse the check so that it can then be deposited. That settlement check must be deposited into an attorney trust account (also called an 'escrow' account). Once the check clears, the attorney's fee is paid from that amount. If there are any liens or outstanding medical bills against the proceeds of the lawsuit, they are paid from the client's share of the settlement which is still sitting in the escrow account. All remaining money is then given to the client, with a check from the lawyer's trust (escrow) account. At the time the client is given the final amount of the settlement, they are also given an itemized listing showing what expenses were incurred during the course of their litigation. A copy of this document is filed with the Office of Court Administration.