My Attorney is Accepting a Settlement That's Too Low...
My personal injury attorney is now lowballing a car accident settlement to such an extreme that I will end up paying out of pocket for residual bills despite sustaining a life-long injury. I need some help.
I was broadsided just inside a gated neighborhood by a car going the wrong way (caught on tape). I immediately got the "best" personal injury attorney in town and began my chiropractic treatments. Over 4.5 months several MRI's were done and it was discovered I sustained several ruptured discs.
They then sent me to a pain management doctor who wanted to give me cortizole injections, but a pre-existing condition indicated this was a "bad idea".
Eight months after the accident the attorneys said they were asking for $XX,000 and expected the insurance company to counter with something "substantially lower", at which point we could counter.
Two weeks later the 'settlement manager' called and said the opposing insurance company had come back with an offer of $XXK - 20% of the demand. She said that what 'bit us' was the low amount of repairs on my vehicle (under $1K ).
Didn't they know this in the first two weeks after the accident? They did. This means that although they'd collect their 33%, I would actually end up with BILLS, and absolutely no settlement money for myself. I told her to counter with 1% less than our original demand, and from there we'd see them in court. She snapped "Well they'll just counter with $XX K (original amount plus $500)...I can tell you that!"
I am gravely concerned about this. I thought they were supposed to be my advocates! She makes it sound like she's on cozy terms with this insurance company, and is more concerned about pleasing them than obtaining the settlement their client deserves.
I thought I'd be able to get continued chiropractic therapy with my settlement award. I am in constant pain and must work a physically demanding job, which makes this all much more scary. What can I do? Please suggest the most prudent and aggressive action I can take in this matter. Thank you.
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ANSWER for "My Attorney is Accepting a Settlement That's Too Low...":
There isn’t any practical reason your attorney would be on “cozy” terms with the insurance company. Doing so would mean she wouldn’t be able to make a living practicing personal injury law.
Another reason your attorney wouldn’t be on cozy terms is the contingency factor. Your attorney obviously worked on your case. Whether you think she worked hard or not, you should realize whatever work she did was wasted. It would be similar to a professional painter painting a house with a promise of payment when finished. After finishing the building owner said he wouldn’t pay.
As you know your attorney is only paid when she recovers a settlement amount, either through negotiations or trial. Your attorney probably accepted your case with a written agreement stating you would pay her either 33.3% to 40% of the total settlement when the case was completed.
Although we aren’t privy to the facts of the case, your mentioning a “pre-existing” condition is a red flag. Pre-existing conditions are notorious for conflicting with true settlement negotiations. The question is always, “Where did the pre-existing condition end, and where did the new injuries begin?"
We urge you to have another “sit down” with your attorney. It seems there may be a failure to communicate. Whatever acrimony exists between you and your attorney should be set aside for now. A calm and thorough review of your case is really what you need.
Best of luck,
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