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If a lawyer lies about what is available for settlement to his client is it malpractice?

Fredericksburg, VA |

We settled out of court for a car accident and I was told that the max was $100,000. after it was over I found out it was really $300,000 and he wanted to get rid of the nuisance case, does this constitute legal malpractice?

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Attorney answers 4


First, schedule a meeting with your attorney to get the details. He should put in writing what the offer was the negotiations. If after you have done this step you believe the attorney defrauded you on a fee, contact the VA state bar association for further advice about how to proceed to make a complaint. But, first, schedule the meeting with your attorney. Do it today.


It is unclear from your question whether you think the lawyer misinformed you about how much insurance was available, or that you think he misinformed you about the amount of the settlement and pocketed the difference. Malpractice is negligent legal work. Deliberately misinforming a client is not malpractice. It is more serious than that. Stealing from a client is more serious still. Before you decide what if anything to do, you need to be sure what actually happened. You are absolutely entitled to see all the paperwork in the file, including a copy of the settlement documents and the settlement check. I would frankly be very surprised if your attorney received more in settlement than the $100,000 you were informed of. If in fact there was more insurance available than you were told about, your lawyer could be disciplined for not correctly informing you, but to prove a malpractice case you would have to prove you would have gotten more moeny in the case than the $100,000 you received, but for the misinformation. You might wish to review my guide on legal malpractice, available here on Avvo for more detailed information about the elements of legal malpractice.


You may have a legal malpractice claim and an ethics claim. You should meet with the attorney right away and tell him what you have learned and ask for an explanation. A lawyer should truthfully communicate all offers of settlement to a client, as well as the amount of insurance coverage to pay the claim. If the lawyer settled the claim for a larger amount than you were told, you may have a claim against the lawyer for fraud and conversion. If he misrepresented the amount of the settlement, that is an eghitcal violation which should be reported to the BAr Association in your state. IN either event, talk to the lawyer first and find out what he has to say about it. Then if you are not satisfied talk to another lawyer and proceed from there.


the best advice of all is from Mr Brophy, and is a matter that should be taken to your states bar association

Disclaimer: Mr. Milligram is an attorney licensed to practice law in the States of New York and New Jersey. This response is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship; rather this response is intended to be legal education only and is intended to provide general information about the matter in question. Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice. It is merely intended to provide educational material and 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.

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