Appealing a settlement?

by Anonymous
(North Carolina)

My mother slipped and fell in a grocery store, which nobody denies. She hired an attorney who was very rude to her and disrespectful. She had called the Bar Association many times to complain, but never actually filed a complaint on paper. She's very ill mentally and physically.

Anyway, the statute of limitations runs out in June and he told her if she did not settle for $20,000 (she got $6,000), he would fire her. She felt like this was not sufficient and did not want to sign, so he fired her.

After trying to find someone else to help her (many attorneys did not want to pursue this case), she called him back and rehired him and took the settlement on April 7, 2013. She still has not cashed her check. She feels like the attorney did not represent her honestly.

Can she appeal this settlement? Does she still have time before the statute of limitations runs out?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Appealing a settlement?":

Anonymous (North Carolina):

Your mother does not have to cash the check. As long as she hires an attorney by the limitations expiration date AND the attorney files a lawsuit before that date, she will have plenty of time. Once a lawsuit is filed, the statute of limitations "tolls." That means it doesn't have any effect. Once the lawsuit is filed she'll have as much time as she needs to pursue the case.

Under the circumstances, especially because your mother is mentally ill, you should be very concerned about not accepting the settlement. If your mother isn't able to find an attorney to accept her case and file a lawsuit before the limitations date in June, she will lose everything. It will be too late. The offer from the insurance company will then become effectively void.

There isn't any appellate process. It's either accept the settlement, dismiss the attorney and find one who will file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, or file her own lawsuit. The latter is not a realistic concept. There's really no middle ground.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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