Can i sue this lawyer and have him disbarred?

Asked about 4 years ago - Seattle, WA

My relative was killed in a car wreck involving a tractor trailer. The truck was found to be at fault. The lawyer I had representing the estate of said relative kept telling me that we were suing the driver, and the max amount we could get was 1mill dollars. We agreed based on what the lawyer was telling me. The trucking company was found at fault for the truck having faulty brakes. We just so happen to talk to the lawyer representing the other party and told him what we received in settlement. He was flabbergasted and said that the lawyers in our case settled for 3mill and we should have received more than what we got. I will go to the court house tomorrow and get a copy of the settlement and compare it to the paperwork we received from our lawyer. Any other advice if this is true?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Thuong-Tri Nguyen

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . If the attorney if fact withheld the true amount of the settlement from the client and pocketed the difference, that likely is a violation for which the attorney would be disbarred.

    The client can also sue in civil court to recover the true amount of the settlement from the attorney.

    The WA State Bar Association also has a clients' protection fund that may provide the client with some of the missing money should the attorney no longer has the ability to pay. Application for the clients' protection fund is free through www.wsba.org .

    Settlement agreements usually are confidential and would normally not be filed with the court. You probably will not get a copy from the courthouse. Your attorney should have provided you a copy. The other side may be willing to provide you with a copy.

    After the expiration of the statute of limitations, the right to sue may expire. However, for ethics complaint, there generally is no statute of limitations. You likely should act quickly to preserve all your rights.

  2. Kevin W Conner

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . I am an attorney in Mount Vernon, Washington so I am answering utilyzing Washington State Law. The only "person" authorized to sue and/or settle a case on behalf of a deceased is the personal representative duly appointed by the court. I would start my inquiry with that person (or people if co-representatives were appointed).

  3. Richard Eugene Lewis

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . First, you need a lawyer now. Second, more information is needed to determine what your rights are.

    The personal representative of the estate must sign the release to settle the claim. Under Washington law, no one else can do this. The release will reflect the amount paid by the defendant, or its insurer.

    Your question suggests you hired the lawyer, so I am wondering if you were the personal representative? Our firm, and all reputable lawyers provide the client with a complete accounting of the monies received, attys fees, costs and repayment obligations to medical creditors or insurers. This should have been provided to you or the personal rep.

    The previous writers are correct that the settlement may not be in the court documents, but I disagree that settlements are normally confidential. That is only true when agreed to by the parties and I rarely agree. So, you may need to request a copy of the release and the accounting to determine if the lawyer has acted ethically.

    It sounds like the settlement was not properly represented to you and you may have a claim, but more information is needed.

  4. Kevin W Conner

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . I am an attorney in Mount Vernon, Washington so I am answering utilyzing Washington State Law. The only "person" authorized to sue and/or settle a case on behalf of a deceased is the personal representative duly appointed by the court. I would start my inquiry with that person (or people if co-representatives were appointed).

  5. Nima Taradji

    Contributor Level 16

    Answered . You need an attorney to look into this. If the facts as you state are true and correct, the attorney has committed both legal and ethical malpractice for which bot a lawsuit and an ethical inquiry are warranted.

    Chances are the Settlement Agreement will not be in court's files. The other lawyer who has said all this things may be willing to give you some of the paperwork you need. But, I am curious- the Release Agreement that you or someone on behalf of the Estate must have signed would have reflected te exact amount of the settlement. Why no one has a copy of it? Without a signed Release the other side never have paid a penny.

    It is possible that you have miss-understood some of the things that have occurred and, as it is in most situation, you are blaming the lawyer first. Before you go around accusing anyone of having acted in an unethical manner--which may open you up to a defamation lawsuit--I strongly suggest you go and speak to an attorney who does legal and ethical malpractice cases. Show all the paperwork you have, give the name of all lawyers involved and ask him or her to inquire about some of the facts as you understand them. See what comes up.

    If you are correct, the attorney will be able to guide you as to how to proceed. If not, at least you know that your lawyer was all right. Generally, the initial consultations are free and there is no obligation. If you need a referral, I may be able to recommend an attorney in your area. 1-866-827-2354.

    I hope this helps-

    Nima Taradji
    http://personalinjuryattorneyz.com

    Disclaimer: I am a lawyer licensed in the State of Illinois only, and I am not your lawyer (unless you have been in my office and signed a contract). This communication is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. This is for entertainment purposes only.

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