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I need advise

Santa Monica, CA |

I got a lawyer during an injury accident that was not my fault. The insurance company of the other party settled and my lawyer mailed me a check of $4000 out of the $11000 that was settled. My understanding was that the $7000 was for medical and legal fees. But to my surprise, I just received a letter from the collection agency that my medical bill for the accident has not been settled. I just called my lawyer but he said he only paid himself and the chiropractor, but did not pay the $1170 medical bill. Please, what should i do?

I called my lawyer, he was so rude on the phone. He said he's making a generous offer for me to pay half of the bill and he will match it for the collection agency. He was aware of this bill but the bill was not on the settlement statement i signed.

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Attorney answers 9


You should have signed a settlement statement where all fees and medical bill payments were laid out, and received a copy of it. If not, then your attorney doesn't do this type of law for a living. You are responsible for any unpaid medical bills from a settlement. Tell your attorney that he needs to get this collections action resolved for you.


This is not a good situation for anyone to be in. Schedule an immediate appointment for you lawyer. All open matters are to be properly resolved before the distribution of proceeds; at least as to "contested" proceeds.

Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney client relationship has been formed or should be inferred. Please speak with a local and qualified attorney. I truly wish you and those close to you all the best. Jeff


Sit down with your lawyer and find out where the misunderstanding was, and work out something with him.


Ultimately, you are on the hook for the bills, regardless of what your attorney did or did not do. That being said, you should send him / her a letter or email (as your attorney will probably not respond to your calls for an appt) stating that had you known there was a bill "out there" which was not taken into account, you would not have settled (if that is true). However, if the atty did not know of that bill then he / she could not have dealt with it. If the bill was submitted as part of your settlement demand, then the atty merely forgot to deduct and pay it before sending you your check - that is something which happens frequently. If that is what happened, then you should pay the bill. If the bill was not submitted as part of your attys demand and he / she did know about it, then it makes sense that you probably would not have settled until you got a demand which included that bill. In that case, it is a potential ethical and legal problem for your attorney. I would start with a call , email or letter though, to see what your attorney's position is.

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Kevin Samuel Sullivan

Kevin Samuel Sullivan


a good personal injury attorney sends you a breakdown of the settlement sum and is required to satisfy all medical liens they are made aware of.


Schedule a sit-down appointment with your lawyer then


I understand your frustration. Now that this error has been discovered, let's talk about possible solutions. First is the principle that you are personally responsible for medical bills. Second is the idea that your lawyer made a mistake. Since the bill was submitted to the insurance carrier, it is not likely it would have made a difference in settlement negotiations. This is not a a malpractice issue; it is only a negotiation. Even if it is malpractice, your damages are minimal. I suggest you call the lawyer and see if he will call and try to get the outstanding bill reduced based on his error and then agree to split the outstanding balance. I will be interested in what other lawyers may say.


I agree with the responding attorneys. You need to meet with your car accident attorney to review what the details of the bills are. I wish you the best of luck.


The atty should have provided a settlement breakdown, showing the gross recd, the atty fees, the atty costs, and any liens. The atty must take care of the lien, but is not obligated to take care of outstanding medical bills. I usually offer the option to my client, if they want me to send payment to other creditors out of the settlement or not.
I don't know the details of your case, but Im guessing you had a minor soft tissue injury with chiro bill of about 3400.00 plus the other bill for 1170. 00. A gross settlement of 11k after deducting about 1/3 for fees, and the chiro lien, would leave 4k. Im not shocked at an 11k settlement for a minor soft tissue with a lot of chiro care. I presume you were aware of the 1170.00 bill before you settled. I think the bill is your responsibility. Before I settle a clients case, I usually ballpark the net and we discuss the bills, costs, fees, etc. Did you do that?
If my assumptions about the case are wrong, then disregard my opinion re value.


Since the bills would have come out of the settlement, the $1,170 would have come out of your $4,000 anyways. All that happened is that your attorney gave YOU an extra $1,170 instead of paying your bill for you. You're upset because the lawyer gave you the money instead of paying your bill????? Just pay your own bill and the problem is solved. The fact that the lawyer is willing to chip in from his own share at all is a GIFT. Take what you can get and run.

Just make sure that the lawyer didn't get a bigger piece than he was entitled to get. (Doesn't sound like it.)

Think if it this way, the settlement is like a pie. Your lawyer is responsible for slicing it up and distributing it. The client (you) gets the last piece (what is left of the pie). If your lawyer forgot to pay one of your bills, it means that you got a bigger piece than you were entitle to get. You got the piece that should have gone for this medical bill.

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