Can I Get Money Right Away Without Settling My Personal Injury Claims?

This among the most frequently asked questions in personal injury cases.  Often times, the injured person is in a serious financial bind as a result of the accident and needs money immediately.  Unfortunately, the answer to the question is a qualified “no, you cannot get money immediately without settling your personal 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 owner of the property has no fault coverage.  However, the exceptions are few and far between.

Property Damage

Moreover, the exceptions do not included payments for what are generally the greatest financial needs in a serious accident.  For example, in an auto accident, the injured person’s car may have been badly damaged or destroyed.  There is no obligation on the insurance company to pay on the property damage claim without a final settlement and release of claims. 

Settlement on property damages can happen before and much more quickly than the settlement of your personal injury claims.  Keep in mind that the release should apply only to the damage to the vehicle and not for the personal injury damages.  Settling your property damages should not and must not interfere with your rights to recover on your personal injury claims.

Lost Income and Other Losses

In cases of serious injury, there is always a need for medical treatment.  There may be an equally or more critical financial need.  In serious injury cases, the injured person is often unable to work following the accident.  The person may be out of work for days, weeks, month or years.  In very serious cases, the person may never get back to work at his or her 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 case has settled and a release of claims is signed.  The release of claims basically says you are settling all your claims and there will be no other claims arising out of the accident against that insurer.   Sadly, a personal injury case can take a long time to settle and much longer still 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 any other losses until the case is settled.    There is often no way around this.  It is considered to be a very serious ethical violation in New Mexico for an attorney to loan 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 in a time of need seem like a good solution but in the end, the decision to get such a loan is often sorely regretted.  

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