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Can I be forced to sign lawyer's release before being given my portion of settlement proceeds?

Houston, TX |

My lawyer has received the settlement check for a personal injury claim. There has been ample time, all subrogation has been resolved, all other expenses have supposedly been paid, and the lawyer has received his portion (none of which I have a dispute with) However, there is a lawyer's release that makes statements that I don't agree with. I do not have a full accounting of the trust account holding my funds, but am told that I must sign that I agree with all disbursements and expenses and approve of the way everything was handled in my case before I can receive my funds. Can they legally hold my portion of the settlement money indefinitely until I sign this?

I have sent multiple emails and am told that as soon as I sign the form release, I will be able to receive my funds. I have had trouble with getting communication back from my lawyer throughout the case. The money has cleared trust account and I'm told all other expenses have been paid. Shouldn't I be given an accounting of the funds for my records? Is he allowed to withhold only my portion until I sign the form release? It's been over one year since the settlement was signed and almost half a year since court approval and funding.

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Attorney answers 8


We're you having problems with your lawyer? Either you agree with the disbursements or you don't. I have my clients sign a settlement statement agreeing to the settlement. Once the check comes in and clears in my trust account - I disburse all money and client goes on their merry way. I am not familiar with a lawyers release only a client settlement statement.

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This sounds like a form release. You are right not to sign until you have your questions answered. This may be a way to make sure to have the file reflect your questions were answered and you received your funds.

I would email or write the attorney, and ask for an accounting and answers to any other question. I do not think that they can delay check for this release, but you want an accounting before you accept any check.

You lawyer should explain your distribution.

Good luck.

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Have you sat down with your attorney and reviewed everything? It may help resolve the issues. Good luck.

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


If the attorney did his job he wants to make sure that you acknowledge that. Sometimes things come up later that attorneys have to pull up the file and refresh their memory on things. If he has this in the file it is an assurance that you understand that he's paying these things and nothing more. And fhat you approve of it. I have a disbursement letter with similar language. It just puts a proper end to the case.



Your have the right to receive a closing statement that shows a full accounting of the settlement disbursement. You are allowed to approve this prior to your attorney accepting settlement. You need to schedule a meeting with your attorney to get all question s answered.


If something is wrong, fee arbitration.

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That question is difficult to answer without a copy of the document you are being asked to sign. I would suggest having a sit-down meeting with your attorney and asking for an explanation of what he is asking for and where all of the money went. Usually, a client signs a release that releases the other party in order to settle the case. The client then also signs the settlement check and a closing that accounts for how the funds are being disbursed. You have a right to approve or disapprove of how the funds are distributed, and you cannot do that without seeing an accounting. If you still are not satisfied with the explanation, ask for a copy to take home and review and get another attorney's opinion as to what it means.


I'm curious to know which statements you do not agree with. I have seen releases and settlement distribution forms that contain language that purports to waive a client claim for malpractice, etc. If you are uncomfortable with any portion of the release, inform your lawyer that you will be crossing out that language from the agreement. A lawyer cannot condition the payment of your settlement funds on your signing of a blanket release. The best option, in my opinion, is to inform the lawyer that you have issues with the release, that you would like to meet with him/her to discuss those issues, and work toward a mutually agreeable solution.

Nothing in this post should be construed as to create an attorney-client relationship. All posts contained herein are solely the opinions of the author and are for general discussion purposes only.

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