Visitor Question

My Attorney is Accepting a Settlement That’s Too Low…

Submitted By: Noelle (Indiana)

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.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Noelle,

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.

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

Best of luck,

Published: October 10, 2011

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Comments

4 thoughts on “My Attorney is Accepting a Settlement That’s Too Low…

  1. I was pressured into hiring an attorney when I didn’t want to – I was refused treatment even though I had my own health insurance. I was told that I would get 1/3rd, plus extra $$ for future medical bills.

    Now I’m told I won’t get a dime. My attorney is suddenly acting like I am the enemy now that it’s time to settle. I think I was set up by the doc who wants a lot of money to continue treatment and the attorney is playing me. I can see right through it.

    My plan – if I don’t get paid, they don’t get paid. I won’t sign anything or agree to anything.

  2. I am experiencing the same thing right now. I have a M.S. in clinical psychology and I can see the manipulation.

    I pulled the plus with all of these unnecessary treatments and the doc and attorney got mad. my doc even hurt me when adjusting my neck and the attorney yelled at me hard.

    Now, they are being nice but telling me I have to pay thousands of dollars out of my pocket to get better – i am on the verge of loosing my job, if feels.

    I don’t want to play their game. it feels like they are ‘getting revenge’ by trying to tell me i have to pay medical bills.

    I’m thinking…I already know that they are trying to get every dime that should go to me, so…I think that I will not even agree to ANYTHING – I won’t sign any agreement.

    If I don’t get paid, then the doc and attorney don’t get paid – period! I don’t care!!!

    Does anyone know if I can get into trouble for not agreeing to a low-ball settlement?

  3. The US has so many different laws that help out a lot of the insurance companies, now days who can you trust.

    I’m going through the same thing here in Hawaii. I’m still waiting for my settlement its been 1 yr and 3 months with NO money. Good Luck and God Bless.

  4. Attorneys do this kind of thing all the time. I have one that is doing the same exact thing to me right now. Just because they are working for on a “only if you get paid” basis doesn’t make them honest. As a matter of fact, I think it makes it worse. They’re only out to make sure they get their 33% and the more experienced the attorney the more they know how to make sure they get there’s.

    My lawyer flat out told me he was FRIENDS with my insurance adjuster and there’s nothing right about that. I’m sure that this firm in general is a great firm and that there are firms that have good honest lawyers that are out to truly help you, but they are disappearing slowly with greed.

    My lawyer didn’t even get me enough in my PIP settlement to cover my medical bills. He expected me to pay household help, attendant care help, gas mileage, and medical bills for 3 spinal surgeries out of a $157,500 check – because he was tired of fighting.

    I’m so sorry your going through this honey… get different legal advice. The only opinion I tried the better communication thing with mine, and he yelled at me so hard he made me cry – my dad never even yelled at me like that. If she wont listen its YOUR CASE YOU’RE THE ONE HURT, not her. Don’t let her low ball you. Take care and god bless.

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