We received a call from Fauquier county recently from someone who settled their own auto accident case. They had a question that is very important, and we wanted to share the answer with everyone. The question was: "what happens after I settle my case?"

Settling your auto accident case without a lawyer is a good choice for small accidents. Small accidents are ones that fit the following criteria:

  1. There was minor property damage;
  2. The injury consists of no more than "sprains and strains";
  3. You did not need emergency care, or you were released from the emergency room without a hospital stay;
  4. There were no more than four months of follow-up treatment;
  5. You were released from care with no need for further treatment;
  6. You only missed five days or less of work;

This information is from my book GetItSettled. You can download the PDF FREE from my website. If your car accident exceeded any of the criteria listed above, please give my office a call.

What Should I Watch Out For Before I Settle My Case?

There are a few things that you should know before you sign the settlement release. The first thing you should know is that the settlement release is final. The insurance company will not re-negotiate your settlement amount. Hopefully, you reached an agreement that covers all your damages and expenses.

This is why it is so important that you complete your medical treatment before you settle your claim. This means all your scheduled treatments at Fauquier Hospital or Fauquier Health Rehabilitation need to be complete before you settle. Keep in mind that you have two years to file your car accident claim, so there is no need to rush into a settlement.

What Happens After I Sign the Settlement Release?

You may be eager to cash your check and pay yourself for missed work and payments to the hospital. However, you may be sharing that check with your health insurance company. Some policies require you to repay them if they contributed to your medical care.

This is a little-known clause called subrogation. Check with your health insurance company to see if you are required to repay for your medical care. However, your health insurance company may not be the only company you will have to repay. Listed are some other organizations that you will have to repay.

  • Medicare or Medicaid;
  • ERISA-governed group health plans that are self-insured;
  • Military health benefits plans;
  • Federal government employee health benefits plan;

If you still owe medical bills, you will probably pay that out of your settlement check.

Will I Have to Pay Taxes on My Settlement?

We are not tax accountants. However, you do not have to pay taxes on a personal injury settlement. This applies to everything EXCEPT lost wages. If you are receiving a check for lost wages, you may have to pay taxes on it.

Please mention your insurance settlement at tax time. If you are unsure, visit a tax accountant in person instead of using online tax software.

We want you to be aware that this information only applies to Virginia. If you live out of state, you will need to contact an auto accident attorney licensed in your state before you make a judgment on your own settlement.

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.