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If a lawyer admits to messing up on your case do they still get their fees? I am in wa state

Spokane, WA |

I have a lawyer that admits to his service being incorrect and he agreed to pay me what the other persons insurance should have paid us because of his mess up. He didn't even show up when the other insurance company asked for it to go to court because he didn't want them to point out the mistake, he has been making payments to us but charged us a ton in lawyers fees but he also told us he did not think he was entitled to them but now won't pay us for them them what do we do?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Something sounds suspicious. I hope your lawyer followed his ethical duties and when he settled your potential malpractice lawsuit with you he put the terms of the settlement in writing and advised you to take it to another attorney to ensure you were receiving a fair offer settlement. If you do not have a written settlement agreement, and if you weren't advised to seek independent review from an independent attorney you should schedule a consultation with qualified civil or legal malpractice attorney to discuss your settlement rights. If you do have an agreement it should be spelled out in writing what you are entitled too. I hope this helps.

  2. I agree with my fellow attorney. You will likely need to speak with a malpractice attorney. In an ideal word your attorney should have simply turned this over to his malpractice carrier. Now, I fear, he/she has caused themself more problems by negotiating these terms with you instead of providing you seperate counsel.

    I am an Arizona attorney. AVVO does not pay us for our responses. Simply because I responded to your question does not mean I am your attorney. In Arizona a non-lawyer is held to the same standards as an attorney so there are dangers to representing yourself. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. If you require legal assistance an in depth discussion of your case is needed as there are many other issues to consider such as defenses, statute of limitations, etc.

  3. I agree with the other two lawyers who answered, and I would add this: When a lawyer makes the kind of mistake that is malpractice (not every mistake is malpractice), he should advise you of the errors and either refer you to a new lawyer or else advise you to find a new lawyer yourself. The lawyer should also contact his own liability insurance carrier, if he has one, so that the insurance company is there to pay what you are owed. It would be the job of your new lawyer to sort out the mess your first lawyer made, including things like whether your original lawsuit can be salvaged, whether your first lawyer (or his insurance company) is going to have to pay you -- and how much -- and whether your first lawyer would be entitled to any fees for the work he did correctly.

    It was improper for your first lawyer to try to resolve the problems caused by his malpractice by paying you what you would have gotten from the other person's insurance, whether or not he signed a written agreement with you. Once he had committed the malpractice, he then had conflicting interests: on the one hand, he was required to act in your best interests, because you are his client, but on the other hand, he had his own interests to worry about, because of all he potential repercussions of the malpractice. There is a great risk in this situation that he would not be able to do what is best for you at the same time he is trying to do what's best for himself. So although it may have seemed fair or reasonable to you at first, when this lawyer was making the payments, the risk of him changing his mind (as he obviously has, on the issue of his fees) was one of the reasons why he should have made sure you had a new lawyer to protect your interests.

    At this point, you can do both things that have been suggested: (1) consult with a lawyer who specializes in legal malpractice about your rights and remedies against your first lawyer, and (2) you can contact the Washington State Bar Association to discuss filing a complaint based on your lawyers unethical conduct. In some cases, the Bar Association can help compensate clients who are harmed financially by their own lawyers. Even if you contact the bar association, however, it would be wise to get a new lawyer.

    Every person and every case is unique and the information I provide on this forum is not a substitute for consulting with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction to obtain appropriate legal advice specific to your situation. Any information I have provided is of a general nature. It is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. I am unable to give you legal advice on this forum. Further, I am not your lawyer and by providing information on this forum, I am not agreeing to enter an attorney-client relationship with you. Communications on this forum are not privileged or confidential and should not be treated as such. It is unwise to disclose information of a confidential or personal nature on this forum. If you are unable to afford an attorney in a criminal matter, the court should be able to appoint counsel for you at no cost to you. Also, most state bar associations can provide contact information for free or low-cost legal advice.

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