This is among the most frequently asked questions in personal injury cases. Often, the injured person is in a severe financial bind due to the accident and needs money immediately. Unfortunately, the answer is a qualified “no, you cannot get money immediately without settling your injury claim.”
The answer is qualified because it presumes that you are referring to the negligent party’s insurance company as the source of the money. If this is the case, the answer may seem very unfair, but the insurance company, in most cases, has no obligation to pay you any money without a full and final settlement. There are a few rare exceptions for payment of medical bills, such as in a slip and fall claim where the property owner has no-fault coverage. However, the exceptions are few and far between.
Moreover, the exceptions do not include payments for what are generally the most significant financial needs in a severe accident. For example, the injured person’s car may have been badly damaged or destroyed in an auto accident. There is no obligation on the insurance company to pay for the property damage claim without a final settlement and release of claims.
Settlement of property damages can happen before and much more quickly than the settlement of your injury claims. Remember that the release should apply only to the damage to the vehicle and not the personal injury damages. Settling your property damages should not interfere with your rights to recover your injury claims.
Lost Income and Other Losses
In cases of serious injury, medical treatment is always needed. There may be an equally or more critical financial need. In severe injury cases, the injured person is often unable to work following the accident. The person may be out of work for days, weeks, months,s or years. In severe cases, the person may never return to work at their chosen employment and sometimes not at all.
Once again, the law can seem very unfair in these cases since the insurance company has no obligation to pay for any of these losses (or any others) until the issue has been settled and a release of claims is signed. The release of claims says you are paying all your claims, and there will be no other claims arising from the accident against that insurer. Sadly, a personal injury case can take a long time to settle and much longer to go to trial. In the meantime, the financial strain can be enormous.
Few (No Good) Options for Early Recovery
In short, you will not receive any payment for lost income or other losses until the case is settled. There is often no way around this. It is considered a grave ethical violation in New Mexico for an attorney to loan a client money. This leaves only two options. The first is to settle your claims quickly and cheaply, which is rarely, if ever, advisable. The second is to get a loan against the settlement. However, this is not advisable since the interest rates on these loans are extraordinary. This may seem like a good solution in a time of need, but in the end, the decision to get such a loan is often sorely regretted.