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A.J.
A.J., Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 4235
Experience:  Licensed to practice law, I gained experience in personal injury law working for the CTA
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I think my live in boyfriend of 26 years is being ripped off

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I think my live in boyfriend of 26 years is being ripped off by his lawyer. He was sent papers in the mail to sign to agree to the amount offered back in May. It is now July and he still hasn't received any money. He was told that the advanced loan that he took out was paid back and that the interest stopped accuring. The loan amount was for 20,400, $400 being the application fee. He now has to pay back $46,748 18 months after receiving the loan. (which seems ridiculously high to me). He was told that the money was paid back in June 23 to stop the interest however it is now July and he has yet to receive any personal money from the lawyer. When he called to ask when he was going to get his check the lawyer claims that they haven't received the check for the other party. Something sounds very wrong to me. My boyfriend is not one to question people but something is not right. Is there a way to find out how much the lawyers received, when the check was received and what was actually paid out and to whom it was paid to?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  A.J. replied 1 year ago.
Hello, and thank you for contacting Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I look forward to answering your question this afternoon. In order to accurately answer your question, I need just a little bit more information:

(1) Who was this loan taken out from? Did he take a loan from the attorney to cover expenses or was this just a loan from a bank that settlement money was supposed to be used to pay back?

(2) Who is the settlement with? Was it an insurance company?

Thanks
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The company is called Silver Stream Legal Funding Group. I would've never let him take the loan out if I knew the cost of it. He never told me about it. I just found the papers and looked at them about a week ago when the lawyers told him they were going to try and get him at least $10,000 for himself.


 

Expert:  A.J. replied 1 year ago.
Ok, that makes more sense, thank you for the extra information.

So basically he took out a "loan" in anticipation of winning or receiving a settlement, but he is now being told (a) that the loan has not been repaid and (b) that money promised to him in addition to what was loaned also has not shown up yet? Is that a fair summary?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

He was told that the loan was taken care of back in June. He has still not received any money. If the loan was paid back shouldn't he be receiving his money too? I am sure they are taking advantage of him.


 


 

Expert:  A.J. replied 1 year ago.
Potentially, yes, it stands to reason that if the loan was paid back, then all of the settlement money was paid (I certainly cannot imagine why a potential defendant would stagger payments in such a way). Unfortunately, there are a few roadblocks to finding out the truth in such a situation.

(1) Without any direct relation to this person or the case itself, you are likely not going to be provided any information directly (as you are clearly already aware), meaning that the impetus to getting accurate information lies with your boyfriend, whose case it is. The exception would be if he signed a power of attorney for you to deal with the issue, that may be enough for you to speak on his behalf both with the attorney and with whoever he is settling with.

(2) Even if your boyfriend were to be more proactive, the fact that he is represented by counsel means that the defendant probably will not want to provide any information directly to him. This means that he is relying on the attorney to provide accurate information. Unless the attorney/client relationship were to be terminated, the defendant is likely not going to be willing to deal with your boyfriend directly.

(3) Now, the issue with the attorney is probably the one place where your boyfriend has any leverage to get accurate information. Pennsylvania law includes a specific code of conduct for attorneys that includes a requirement to openly and actively communicate with the client, and of promptness where it is within the attorney's control to be prompt. Rule 1.4 specifically deals with the lawyer's requirements in communicating:

Rule 1.4. Communication.

(a) A lawyer shall:

(1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0(e), is required by these Rules;

(2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished;

(3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;

(4) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and

(5) consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer’s conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.


As you can see this requires the attorney to keep the client reasonably informed about what is happening with their case. Rule 1.15 is also relevant, as it deals with holding a clients property, including any settlement funds they may have received. It states:

"Except as stated in this Rule or otherwise permitted by law or by agreement with the client or third person, a lawyer shall promptly deliver to the client or third person any property, including but not limited to Rule 1.15 Funds, that the client or third person is entitled to receive and, upon request by the client or third person, shall promptly render a full accounting regarding the property; Provided, however, that the delivery, accounting and disclosure of Fiduciary Funds or property shall continue to be governed by the law, procedure and rules governing the requirements of Fiduciary administration, confidentiality, notice and accounting applicable to the Fiduciary entrustment."

This, in essence, means that settlement funds must be delivered to the client in a reasonably prompt manner, and that an accounting of the funds should be made available to the client. If you believe this is not happening, sometimes raising the rules of professional conduct is enough to get an attorney to be more honest about what is happening with a case.

If, however, the attorney still will not provide any useful information, then your boyfriend may raise the issue of a complaint with the Disicplinary Board of the Pennsylvannia Supreme Court (The agency tasked with regulating attorney conduct) for violating the rules of professional conduct. Again, sometimes just raising this as a possibility is enough to get an attorney to be more dilligent and honest about a case. However, if it becomes necessary to actually file a complaint, instructions on how to do so can be found at:

http://www.padisciplinaryboard.org/consumers/complaint-forms/

So, as I said above, short of an actual complaint (or a lawsuit alleging that the attorney is withholding your boyfriend's property), it is difficult sometimes to actually get an accounting of what has been paid and when. However, an attorney has an ethical obligation to provide such an accounting under the rules of professional practice, and failure to provide an accounting and/or to hand over client property (including settlement funds) is arguably grounds for a complaint.

I hope this helps, but let me know if you require any additional information or need clarification of anything that I have said (never be afraid to ask for clarification!). Otherwise, please remember to RATE my answer so that I can receive credit for my work.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Where would I get papers for him to sign a power of Attorney over to me and will his lawyers actually talk to me about the case and show me the settlement documents that I ask to see. As in the Check signed over to them and the checks paid out to those that were owed?

Expert:  A.J. replied 1 year ago.
There are a number of sample Power of Attorney forms online (no official one, generally to make sure you would want to have one drafted by an attorney, although a sample in this case shoudl suffice). Also, your local law library will often have sample documents, including a power of attorney sample. What you are looking for is called a general durable power of attorney. There is, for example, a sample general power of attorney form at:

http://www.tidyforms.com/download/general-power-of-attorney-form.html

Checking with a local law library, however, may be a better option, often they keep sample forms for people to use (I can make no promises, this is just a common practice of many law libraries). Every law school has a law library, and many counties maintain one as well. For example, the court in Philidelphia has a law library at:

http://www.courts.phila.gov/departments/lawlibrary.asp

Again, I cannot promise that they will have a sample POA, but this is certainly the type of thing that many libraries keep for the public to use.

If you have a POA, then yes, just about anyone should be willing to provide you with information. I cannot promise that they will not put up a fight, and it may be worth your/his time to sit down in person with another attorney to assist in getting accurate information out of the first attorney, but a POA is the only way short of a court order (which would require showing that he is mentally incompetent to handle his own affairs) that someone other than him can seek the information you are talking about.

I hopet his helps further, and let me know if you require any additional information. Otherwise, please remember to RATE my answer so that I can receive credit for my work.
A.J., Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 4235
Experience: Licensed to practice law, I gained experience in personal injury law working for the CTA
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