Lawyer is holding my 100,000 settlement in his trust account, why cant he pay me?

Asked over 1 year ago - Wisconsin Rapids, WI

was in a car accident and my lawyer got me a 100,000 bodily injury settelement, which is sitting in his trust account, he says he is waiting for my health care provider to waive the claim for reimbursement of medical bills, but why cant he disburse the 100,000 to me now? is he just letting it sit in his account to collect interest? im not too happy about the situation, but dont want to annoy my attorney,

Attorney answers (10)

  1. David J. McCormick

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . This question has been asked already. Since your lawyer is trying to save you money you need to give him/her the benefit of the doubt until they are able to resolve the repayment issue. These negotiations take time. You need to schedule a meeting with your attorney and ask then these questions, not us.

    Good luck.

    DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being... more
  2. S. David Rosenthal Esquire

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

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    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . It sounds like there is a medical reimbursement claim against the settlement money that needs to be resolved before the money can be disbursed. Whether this claim actually constitutes a "lien" or not will depend on the law in Wisconsin. If you need some money right away, ask your lawyer if a partial disbursement can be made pending resolution of the reimbursement claim. He/she should also let you know the status and expected time line for full resolution.

    Good luck.

  3. Jeffrey Mark Adams

    Contributor Level 20

    12

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Laywer is ethically to withhold necessary sum to resolve any outstanding lien(s). Presumably the entire settlement is being held because what is in dispute or unknown is a sum greater than 100k. Sometimes need to settle before these issues are resolved, but better practice is to settle after these issues are resolved. Again, sometimes don't have a choice.

    Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and... more
  4. Randy William Ferguson

    Contributor Level 19

    9

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    Answered . It is the norm. He must make sure hospital is paid before you are paid. Most trust accounts do not pay interest to attorney. Interest is paid to state bar in many states.

    The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The... more
  5. Scott Douglas Camassar

    Contributor Level 16

    9

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . He's trying to put as much of that $100k in your pocket as he can after negotiating with the claimholder. This takes time.

  6. Eric Jerome Gold

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

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    Answered . M Y colleagues are correct. Just because the attorney has the money in his trust account, it doesn't mean that he can provide any or all of it to you. The medical providers and possibly others may be liens on the settlement today and your attorney has to clear the liens before he can disburse your portion of the proceeds to you.

    ** LEGAL DISCLAIMER ** My response above is not legal advice and it does not establish an attoreny-client... more
  7. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . The interest on a trust account doesn't go to the lawyer, it goes to the Bar. Be patient.

    Only 29% Contingency Fee! Phone: 215-510-6755 www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com
  8. Jonathan Craig Reed

    Pro

    Contributor Level 16

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    Answered . I learned very early as a PI lawyer that nothing aggravates some clients more than a delay between the time a settlement check comes in and the time when the client gets paid. As long as I recognize the insurance company as a big one in good health I typically ask my bank to waive the hold requirement and allow immediate disbursement of the check as a matter of good client relations.

    But in your case it appears that your health insurance company is the problem.

    As to collecting interest it is basically illegal for your lawyer to pocket interest on your money. In the "old days" lawyer trust accounts did not pay interest so the lawyer wouldn't have to figure out that John Doe has 59 cents of interest due him and Mary Jones is owed $1.29. In more modern times state bars demand that lawyer trust accounts pay interest to them to pay for legal services for the poor. So the lawyer is not making money off your interest.

    In cases in which a lawyer expects a lot of money to sit in a trust account for a long time, the lawyer can set up a "segregated account" for that particular client which can earn interest paid to that client. But with today's super low interest rates, the state bar is probably only going to get a buck or two or three off your money while it sits in the trust account.

    There are many reasons, almost all legitimate, occasionally not, why a lawyer delays disbursing money from his or her trust account. But cheating the client out of interest is never the reason. And having to resolve an insurance company lien is a very legitimate reason.

  9. Carmine John Giardino

    Contributor Level 14

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Obviously your lawyer is trying his best to help you put as much money in your pocket as possible. Give him a chance and stop second guessing him. If WI is like Texas, the lawyer does not get the interest on client trust account balances...it goes to equal access to justice so people can get free legal services. Geez

    If this answer was helpful to you or if it was the best answer, please click the buttons that state helpful and... more
  10. Larry Van Roberts

    Pro

    Contributor Level 11

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    Answered . Most likely your attorney is waiting to confirm the subrogation amount your health insurance carrier is claiming for reimbursement of medical bills it paid for your treatment caused from the wreck. Your attorney would be responsible for the amount owed to the health insurance carrier if he disbursed the $100,000 now. Also, the trust account most likely is not collecting interest.

    This response is given solely as a general response to the question and does not create an attorney / client... more

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