One of the main points stressed in personal injury law is that an attorney can never accept a settlement without the client’s consent. The lawyer must ask you first before they make any decisions on your behalf. After all, the settlement pertains to your life and your rights, not theirs. There is absolutely no wavering on this fact, no matter what the circumstances are.
Even if the amount of money offered in the settlement is not what the client wanted or expected, the client still needs to be told and advised on all the data and information making up the gross settlement. This includes the prospective attorney’s fees as well as any medical bills and hard costs. When these facts are not stated to the client, you can’t make an intelligent decision on if you should take the settlement being presented or reject it in the hopes of what you’re looking for.
However, if you see that your attorney automatically accepted the settlement offered without even talking to you about the terms, he or she violated a fiduciary duty owed to you. When the attorney doesn’t discuss the settlement with you beforehand, they are taking advantage of their position. They are using their title, knowledge and experience to their own advantage. Remember, you are trusting this individual because they have superior mastery of this area. You believe their advice to be honorable and honest.
Not only this, though, but by your attorney settling your personal injury case without asking you is an ethical violation. If this has happened to you, the next step you can take is to report your attorney to the local bar association. However, keep in mind that the State Bar is the only authority source at this point that can really take action and discipline your lawyer. If you make the ultimate decision to report your attorney’s conduct, you need to head to the State Bar’s website. On there, you will see downloadable forms. Fill out those forms and then send them into the State Bar.
Now, when a settlement is accepted against your knowledge, the insurance company does not know this. They believe that the accepted settlement is a done deal because cuts have already been cut. At this time, you will need to step in and tell the insurance company that you never actually agreed to the settlement at hand. Explain to the company that the settlement was accepted without any authorization from you and that the attorney now no longer works for you.
When you take this action, the insurance adjuster can then start working directly with you or any new attorney that you have hired since the settlement mishap happened. This insurance adjuster will work to make things right for you. It’s important to note that laws do change quite often, especially across jurisdictions. That’s why the best thing you can do for yourself is get a personalized case evaluation from a lawyer who is licensed in your state. If you do decide to hire another attorney to take on matters, you have to be careful that the person you hire now won’t deceive you as well. It’s best to do your research. This means checking our reviews and recommendations, looking at certifications and degrees and meeting with the lawyer before automatically hiring them.
Plain and simple, an attorney cannot just accept or deny a settlement in your personal injury case on your behalf. However, you can’t predict the future. If you do end up in a situation where this has happened to you, there are steps you can take. This situation is not a total loss. The key here, though, is acting quick. The moment you notice that the attorney has acted without your consent, you need to alert others as well as fire the attorney. As long as you do this, there can be actions taken to reverse the damage.