Do we, as plantiff clients, have the right to ask to settle a case instead of asking for a jury trial in a personal injury case?

Asked about 1 year ago - Chattanooga, TN

Our lawyer is determined to sue for an enormous amount-we have told him several times we just want medical bills paid, but he keeps saying the case is going to court. The accident happened over 4 years ago and I am starting to have concerns about his competence. My daughter was a passenger in a roll over car accident at age 15= the boy driving was 16 and was driving at speeds > 90 miles an hour. She did go to ER, had concussion, suffered severe headaches for months, and still suffers ptsd regarding driving and other issues.

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Thomas Lang Wiseman

    Contributor Level 7

    9

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Generally-speaking, the client is the ultimate decision maker. There are situations where the client may not have 100% absolute control over settlement, for example when the claim involves a minor a Court must independently weigh the settlement to insure not only that the amount is reasonable and fair, but also how the money is to be used and/or invested until such time as the minor is old enough to handle the settlement proceeds himself/herself.

    In the normal situation, though, the client is in control. Having said that, clients are generally well-served by carefully listening to their lawyer's recommendations and advice. A client is certainly able to reject that advice, and indeed there are sometimes practical considerations that come into play where one is not in a position to wait for maximum value; however, the lawyer's experience is key when it comes to evaluating whether you're being treated fairly by the insurance company. You should have a heart-to-heart with your lawyer to clarify everyone's expectations and needs. While it would be inappropriate to estimate the value of a claim in this limited forum with incomplete facts, it is worth noting that you describe a very serious incident which appears to have caused some permanent injuries, perhaps even requiring future medical treatment (psychological care/counseling). Accepting a settlement that only includes past medical expenses may be setting the your sites a bit low, although that is a question that you (and your now over-18 adult daughter) should sit down and discuss with your attorney so that everyone is on the same page before you make any decisions.

    Disclaimer: General information provided online is not meant to be specific legal advice, and it does not create... more
  2. Russell Warren Lewis IV

    Pro

    Contributor Level 11

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This is very simple. Your attorney's job is to represent you. Under Tennessee ethics rules, the client sets the goal of the representation, not the attorney.

    Attorney Lewis represents clients nationally and is licensed in Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania... more
  3. John A. Day

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart communication with your lawyer. Your daughter is now an adult, and she is the one who has ultimate decision making authority in the case (you probably have the right of control over settlement of the medical bills incurred during your daughter's minority).

    Thus, you and your daughter need to meet with the lawyer and come to an understanding about how the case should proceed. You should ask him to lay out exactly what his plan is and listen carefully to his advice before making your own decisions about what you want. You and your daughter can make a good decision only after fully understanding the rights each of you have and understanding the pros and cons of pursing those rights fully and the pros and cons of settling only for your medical bills.

    At the end of the day, your daughter (and you to the extent mentioned above) have the ultimate decision making authority, but it would be a mistake for each of you not to fully understand your rights before making a decision.

    Doctors cannot diagnosis diseases over the Internet, and lawyers can rarely determine someone's legal rights and... more
  4. David Ian Schoen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    7

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . This is a very unusual post. It sounds like your attorney is trying to do the right thing by your daughter and getting her the best recovery possible even if that means going to trial. If you are bringing this claim on your daughter's behalf, you also have a responsibility to take steps to get her a fair recovery. Based on the limited information provided, I don't understand why you would believe that your attorney may be incompetent. I am sure that your attorney does not want to go to trial if the insurance company offers a fair settlement. You need to meet with the attorney and have him explain to you why he believes that this is the best course at this time. If it doesn't make sense to you, then you can get a second opinion. Ultimately, it is your decision to make, but you would be wise to consider your own attorney's recommendation, especially if he is an experienced personal injury attorney.

  5. Joyce J. Sweinberg

    Pro

    Contributor Level 16

    7

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . While the decision as to how to proceed it ultimately yours, the attorney should certainly have enough expertise to guide you in the direction which serves your daughter's best interests. There is not enough information here for us to assess that. You do not say if there is even an offer on the table at this time, or what the policy limits are of the defendant in this case. I agree with my colleague that you should meet with him to discuss why the case needs to go to court. You should know that there are attorneys who would just settle the case and run, rather than go to court! Talk to him and ask him to explain why he feels the case needs to go to court. There is something missing in the information you have provided here that holds the answer to that question.

    I will evaluate your case for free. I can also refer you to an attorney to help you if I cannot help you. Call me.... more
  6. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Either trust your lawyer, or get a new one.

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