My lawyer accepted a settlement without my consent...
(Tampa, Florida, USA)
Recently my current lawyer settled my automobile accident claim without my accord. The accident happened over a year ago and for months now, I have tried to communicate with his law firm regarding issues and concerns: unpaid medical bills, no information regarding the claim progress and more...
I have emails proving my many attempts to communicate with his firm. About a month ago, the paralegal emailed me stating that my lawyer had presented a settlement plan. I replied that I was very surprised of the fact that he went ahead without letting me know and worst of all without showing me the document.
On Monday, my lawyer's secretary called to let me know checks of my settlement were in and that i needed to come sign. i was speechless, told her to fax me the final statement.
I emailed the firm stating that I disagreed with the statement and that I would appreciate very much for my lawyer to contact me ASAP. I tried to contact them every day since. I never heard back from them.
My questions are: What should I do now? I am thinking of contacting the Hillsborough Bar Assoc. to file a complaint. Is this the best or only way to go at this point? Any help will be truly appreciated. Thank you.
Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always
get a formal case review
from a licensed attorney in your area.
ANSWER for "My lawyer accepted a settlement without my consent...":
Rule Number One in personal injury law is that you NEVER accept a settlement without the client's consent.
Even if the dollar figure is not what the client was hoping for, the client must still be advised of all facts including the gross settlement, prospective attorney's fees, hard costs and medical bills. This is the only way a client can make an intelligent decision about whether to accept or reject a settlement.
When your attorney accepted the settlement without discussing the terms with you, he/she violated a fiduciary duty owed to you. This is when a person with superior knowledge and experience who is expected to exhibit trustworthy advice and counsel takes advantage of that position to their advantage.
It is also an ethical violation. In terms of your question, you can report your lawyer to the local bar association, however the State Bar is the only authority that can really discipline this person. The state bar website will have downloadable forms for you to complete should you decide to report your lawyer's conduct to them.
Furthermore, you have an accepted settlement that the insurance company believes is a "done deal" because they have already cut checks. You may need to intervene and advise them that you never agreed to the settlement, that it was accepted without your authorization and that the attorney no longer works for you.
This will cause the insurance adjuster to begin working with you directly or with your new attorney should you decide to hire one again.
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,
P.S. Please help us out by sharing this site...