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How to find out if my lawyer did not keep more money from my settlement case?

Los Angeles, CA |

I had a pedestrian run over case back in 2005. One truck hit me when I was standing outside of my house one day. After I filed that case, I moved from that state to California. But my lawyer continued to represent me. 6 months later he calls and says "insurance offered 20,000 I recommend you to take it and not to go for a trial"
I recently heard that one pedestrian who got hit by a truck won $200,000 and had small injuries (just like my case) How do I find out my lawyer did not keep more than 33% from my case settlement. He never showed me ANY paperwork where insurance offered 20,000. How can I go back and invistigate it? And if he did keep more money, do I still have a right to have it or its too late and there is nothing I can do.

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Attorney answers 4


You can contact the state bar disciplinary board to investigate. It is most likely that the lawyer only got the 20k, which could be verified in his IOLTA account by the bar.

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No insurance company is going to cough up $200,000 for "small injuries" to settle a case and no jury is going to award that amount for "small injuries." I am sure there is something to distinguish your case from the one you read about. This happens all the time where a client reads about another case and thinks that somehow they did not get enough in their own settlement. There are so many different factors which can affect the value of a case. Having said that, it is highly unlikely that the attorney got more money than what he shared with you. If you still have the paperwork from the settlement take a good look at it. You might find something from the insurance company to ease your concerns. If not, call the attorney and ask for a copy of the offer letter, or the letter transmitting the settlement check, and/or a copy of the check. Many firms take copies of the settlement checks for the file. Best of luck to you.

You can learn more about me by clicking on my Avvo profile. Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice. It is merely intended to provide general information to aid the poster in finding answers to the problem posed. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. In most cases, it is best to contact an attorney directly to find answers to your problems.


I agree with Ms. Sweinberg. Forgive me when I jump on my soapbox for a minute, but nobody gets $200,000 for small injuries. This is just not realistic. In my 20 year career I have heard this many times (it is alwasy frustrating). Once, I really bothered to investigate, and it turned out that the injured "friend" had very serious injuries, and medical bills that were about $150,000 more than my client's.

In any event, you were entitled to copies of the paper-work. You could contact the insurance company who settled the case, and they could give you copies of the paper-work. The best idea is to contact your lawyer's office, and just politely say you never received copies of the closing paper-work, and want copies of all cancellled checks, including the settlement check, all medical bills paid, etc. If fraud was committed, you can use that as a reason to re-open an old case. Do not delay, however,as time is of the essence.

The above was not legal advice and cannot be relied on. For informational purposes only. Some of the time periods in which you are legal required to act can be incredibly short, some as short as 6 months. Time is of the essence, do not delay seeking legal advice and pursuing your legal rights. No attorney/client relationship formed.


Very wierd! In all cases when you settle, the other side makes you sign a release. You had to have signed a document to get that money, and that document would have the exact amount of the gross settlement.
You must send your attorney a fax or certified letter, ask for a full accounting and a copy of the release and settlement draft. Give your attorney 30 days, or tell them you will file a bar complaint. Remember to document the demand, much better then a phone call.
If you never signed a release, or the attorney signed for you, there are some MAJOR issues at play! GOOD LUCK!!

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