Do not sign the check. Send the attorney a letter describing what you have here in greater detail and ask your very valid questions in that letter. Make sure you include your statement that the settlement was made without your knowledge or input. Ask him to send you his/her written reply promptly. Send the letter certified, return receipt requested AND by regular mail. Insist on a written response to your letter. Memorialize any future communication with him/her in the same fashion. Letters of both mailing types summarizing the substance of ANY oral communications and invite him to respond back with any omissions or corrections. Shortly (but I would give him/her an opportunity to have sufficient rope with which to hang themselves if that is their choice) you will need to be seeking a new attorney who can untangle what the first accomplished and advise you further on steps, both legal and administrative, that can be taken against your lawyer. Good luck. If you have any questions concerning my suggestions feel free to contact me at your convenience.
You have raised two issues. The first is quite simple - your attorney could not have settled your personal injury case without your knowledge or authorization. You should have been consulted during the negotiations and/or explained the status of your case. Second, with respect to the value of your case, you must keep in mind that - irrespective of the severity of your injuries - what you can recover is limited by a variety of external factors, such as the limits of tortfeasor's liability coverage (if any), the limits of your uninsured/underinsured coverage (if any), and any outstanding liens. While your unhappiness with the net amount of your recovery can certainly be understood, it may be the best result that could have been achieved.
The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.
You would have a terrific civil action -- what we call a "tort" action. A tort is a wrong committed against another and for your loss of wages, loss of work, and compensation to make yourself "whole" again, you should definately sue. And you can hire whatever attorney you want -- insurance companies and lackluster attorneys may give you other advice, but you definately ought to have an attorney assist you with filing a civil tort action.
Contact a personal injury attorney to represent you and handle the settlement. This could be a policy limits case.
You should fire the lawyer who settled your case without consulting you and hire a new drunk driving accident lawyer immediately. Try to seek someone who is also qualified to handle a legal malpractice claim. You have two years from the date of the settlement in which to bring the legal malpractice claim, so do not delay.
Please note that I am only licensed in Pennsylvania. Therefore, if your case involves another jurisdiction, you should disregard this post. Further, this posting does not constitute proper legal advice since I have not been able to learn all the circumstances of your case. As such, you should consult a lawyer in person immediately for proper legal advice and should not rely on this posting for legal advice.
An attorney is not authorized to settle a case without the Client's permission. That being said, I agree with my colleagues who suggest you consider the value of your case, policy limits, and talking with your lawyer so you can understand what he or she was trying to accomplish.
This answer is generally how a lawyer would go about handling a termination of probation hearing. It is not a guarantee that a Court will terminate your probation and does not create a attorney/client relationship between us.
I strongly agree with the attorney who said do not sign the release, and the one who said to find another attorney immediately to take over the case. I wouldn't settle a case so cheap involving a drunk driver if my client had a bruised little finger.
If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email - Jgold@goldbenes.com
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