I received an injury settlement after 2 and half years from the start of the case. I had no idea I had a settlement lien until I signed all the paperwork to received my settlement check.
Now that the attorneys and all the smalls have been paid, I'm now being told by my lawyer that I'm responsible for the settlement lien that I didn't know about (because I signed all the paperwork for the settlement to be completed).
Do I have any recourse? Is the lawyer not responsible for finding a lien against my settlement after it's been in motion for over 2 and half years? I feel like I was defrauded and the lawyer was negligent in not finding this lien before completing the settlement.
Thanks for any information you can give.
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ANSWER for "I Was Never Told About Settlement Liens...":
Mike (Austin, Texas):
The first action you should take is to thoroughly review the contingency fee contract you signed when you retained the attorney. It will probably make clear the attorney's legal right to deduct from your settlement amounts you owe to your medical creditors.
In the slight chance the contingency fee contract doesn't mention the attorney's right to deduct from your settlement amounts to pay your medical creditor, the attorney still has an ethical duty to pay those medical creditors. Not only does she have an ethical duty, but she can be sued personally of she doesn't pay those medical creditors.
Your query begs the question why you are averse to having your attorney pay your medical creditors. The implication of your question is that you don't want to pay them. Otherwise, why would you have a problem with having the rightful claims paid? The doctors and therapists provided their treatment to you at no immediate cost. They didn't have to defer their charges, but did so as a courtesy to you and your attorney.
Maybe you should reevaluate your position. You can attempt to get a second opinion from another attorney in your area.
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