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INFOLAWYER
INFOLAWYER, Attorney
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My wife received a settlement from a past auto accident this

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My wife received a settlement from a past auto accident this past March. It was for $100,000. The lawyer that we hired took a 40% commission. He has been paid. We were paid $35,000. He told us that the rest had to be held in trust because of possible subrogation with insurance companies. In April, our insurance company waived all subrogation claims to the money. He never informed us of this matter. In May, we started calling his office to inquire about the rest of the settlement. He would never return ort calls. We called our insurance company to see what was going on and they told us that they waived their right to the money in April. We told them that we have not heard a word about this. After continuously calling his office for information, his office told us that they had given our case over to their satellite office. We called that office to see what was going on and they told us that they did not know anything about it. After much run around, our lawyer finally called to tell that he never received anything from the insurance company about waiving subrogation and by the way, a lien had been placed on the settlement by another company for $1400. My wife and I started calling the company to see what was going on and get it straightened out. I was able to get about $1300 staightened out and was waiting for more info to get this settled. I asked the company when the lien was placed and she told me back in April when they learned that my wife had receive a settlement. They told me that my lawyer had this information. I told them that he is not telling us anything about what is going on. My wife and I had to do all of the calling to find out what is going on. My wife received a letter from our lawyer with a check for $21,235.55 and a letter stating that he had settled the lien and that they had heard that we did not want their services any more that that they will only charge $5,000 for the service of taking care of the lien. He is holding back money that belongs to my wife. My wife and I feel that the $40,000 he has already received is for the entire case, not just for getting the settlement. He made that amount for 10 hours of previous work. He will be conveniently gone all next week camping and is not able to be contacted. What can I do? I will take time to small claims court if i have to or file a complaint with the wyoming state bar. Will these help? I do not see how he can do this.
Hello and thank you for the question. I am sorry to read of this dilemma. How much are you owed in total?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
We are owed $26,235.55. He was paid 38,000 commission and 764.45 for expenses.
Did you have an engagement letter with the lawyer? does it address fee disputes?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Fees: The fee percentagge shall be thirty-eight percent (38.0%) of any amount received (gross recovery), by settlement or judgement exclusive of costs, unless appeal is required, at which time a separate agreement for the fee percentage shal be made. Out of pocket expenses shall be paid by the client att the time of settlement.


 


He has been paid his $38,000 and his $745 in expenses. We are not disputing the charges agreed to in the agreement. He got paid. This is an additional fee that we knew nothing about.


 


Fee Disputes: The client shall first contact his attorney with any questions concerning the charges agreed to in this agreement. Any dispute or question that remains unresolved shall be set forth in writing by both the attorney and the client and delivered to the other party. If they do not agree on the resolution of the questions, the client or the attorney shall have this matter arbitrated by the committee on the Resolution of Fee Disputes. The Committee on the Resolution of Fee Disputes may be reached through the offices of the Wyoming State Bar Association in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Thereafter, the client or the attorney may have recourse to the district court as provided by the Wyoming Supreme Court Rules governing Contingent Fees for members of the Wyoming State Bar.


 


Statement Upon Distribution: At the time of final distribution of the proceeds of the claim or litigation, the attorney shall prepare and the client shall approve by signature, a final settlement accounting. The statement of Distribution shall include: The source of the funds, the total amount of the recovery or settlement, the contingency percentage, the total costs, the proceeds to the client, the amount held in reserve, if any, for costs which have not yet been billed and a statement of the period during which such a reserve shall be held in trust, liens, if any, and the amount to be paid by the client.


 


We did not get a prepared statement of final settlement accounting, as mentioned above, and we did not sign anything regarding a final statement of distribution.

Have either of you commenced arbitration?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

He is out of the office all next week. Would this fall under arbitration? I would not think so because it has nothing to do with the previously agreed upon ("the charges agreed to in this agreement") fees. He did this out of spite and did not follow the conditions set forth in our agreement. Can I take him to small claims court? The limit in Wyoming is $6,000 and I want that $5,000. As far as I am concerned, he stole from my wife.

You should wait for his return and then demand he settle or otherwise proceed to arbitration. Given arbitration clause cannot simply file a lawsuit. Practically having a lawyer reach out can help bring on a settlement as can threat of a disciplinary bar complaint.
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