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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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what to do when a lawyer tells you that he has settled a case

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what to do when a lawyer tells you that he has settled a case for traumatic head injury w/o ever looking at medical records from the clients doctors (only from the insurance companies hired out opinions)--not seeing that sever loss o vision and hearing were involed and contolled seizure disorder became uncontrolled, and many other medical issues. not to mention that he didn't make payments from ins and workmans compt to the clientin a timely fashion-sometimes a month or more late--cusing much unnecessary financial problems for medicines and living expenses such as mortgage and COBRA premiums. the lawyer said the case for dib retirement payments was settled on the second visit w/ him 2 yrs ago--and he didn't want to hear any more about medical record or read anymore letters from the client (as a third party,I was there to witness and hear this) I was shocked out of my mind; He had so much control of the injured person and took advantage of the condition. Too afraid to get a new lawyer and have to pay out og pcket w/ barely enough to get by...she was cornered; During these 2 years he has gotten a percentage of any payments made to her and will get a monthly percentage of any monthly payments made from the so called settlement; the client has not been informed of what has taken plce in over 2 yrs.

Also let me mention that he had the client be alone in the office w/ him to sign papers on the first visit, even tho a family member was there to help enterpret and witness the appointment---family member was sent out of the room. this ,again,was a head injury patient.

what to do??
Thank you for your post. Please permit me to assist you.

Good grief, I do share your concern here. Do you know if the patient provided the attorney with the right and the ability to settle without first running it through approval with the client? Do you genuinely believe that this individual is not competent or able to make his own decisions? The family member, did he have a power of attorney over the client?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

i'm sure that is what the paper work signed -when he specifically asked them to leave the room,was. I believe he mentioned it was a long and expensive battle to get a financial one time settlement--was she up to the expense and mental drain. After that, she felt she had to go w/ a aettlement between work ins,employer and workmans comp.

This is a person who previously had brain surgery for seizure disorders,then went back to work a a very competent RN,designing teaching programs,computor programs, and was doing work as a certified diabetic educator. After the fall and all the medical issues and trying to get care for them, and financial struggles--she is very often not able to make sound decisions in careing for herself or her best interests; other times she is very aware and hermind puts things together orally but can no longer use the computer or write things down in a scencial matter---do to her head injury; this has been a bttle with her insurance, her employer and varios referral docs---is a mess.....


She has no power of attorney--doesn't trust family member--for good reason.

Thank you for your follow-up.

One more question if I may--what is your role in all this? You mentioned that you are a third party--what exactly do you do in this instance?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

a friend/like a sister for 30 yrs;accompanied her to many doc appts, two of the tee very brief lawyer appts, and just trying to be there for her, helping when I can---this is too much for me and shecnat handle it either--part of what she was trying to get from insurance, was therapy at the university of wahsington tramatic brain center--for help w/ every day living..

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I don't believe I've received any information or assistance/recommends yet--

Thank you for your follow-up. I am beginning to understand more. Please allow me to put down some of my thoughts--if I miss anything or you need any further clarification, kindly follow-up and I will be happy to explain further.

An attorney, any attorney, owes her client a duty of basic competence and care. That means that the attorney has to use whatever legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation that the attorney deems reasonably necessary for the client's representation. The attorney must act with reasonable care and diligence in representation, an must keep the client about any substantial or significant issues pertaining to this representation.

Unless the attorney was informed otherwise, that includes all communication for settlements or substantial information pertaining to settlement offers. It also includes performing research, if necessary, and explaining what may or may not be in the client's best interest (and not the attorney's).

What you are describing can be one of two situations. The first may be that due to how the attorney crafted the fee agreement and representation agreement, he was acting ethically and property. Sometimes, depending on how much additional litigation is necessary, fighting for more money or reviewing more reports is simply counter productive--the costs to the attorney versus what the client has to pay may make the fighting useless. For example if the attorney can expand $5,000 in billable hours to get $7,000 in additional compensation, it is really not a good trade-off. Others may be based on what the client requested--such as if the attorney gets to $100,000 for settlement, the client would settle regardless of value of case. This is not a defense of the attorney, merely how such contracts work.

The other option is that the attorney may have been lazy or even unethical. The attorney does have to make the best decisions for the client, and cannot make those decisions if the client is incompetent or unable to make decisions. Furthermore, the representation must be zealous so if he refused to pursue a far greater payoff, it may likewise be problematic. To pursue this further, you may want to discuss this with your friend, and if she likewise believes that she was not represented, have her contact the county bar association and with them file for a complaint with the disciplinary committee. You likewise can file but as a third party your complaint would not be given nearly enough weight.

Good luck.

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