The injured died from a pre-existing condition not related to the fall. Why would the lawyer want the estate to sign over a med pay check to him so that he can use it for a wrongful death suit brought on by a relative of the deceased? The wrongful death case was dropped. Lawyer claims this med pay is now a settlement check.
Actually, in some jurisdictions it violates the rules of professional conduct for a lawyer to take a fee on Medpay unless it was contested, which is rare. What you describe is very odd. You may want to see if your area Bar Association has a fee dispute service, but those who've suggested consulting another attorney have a good idea. Medpay doesn't magically become a "settlement check" and while some firms do use it to fund litigation, here no litigation ensued.
A lawyer can take a contingency fee on med-pay, but typically ethics rules prohibit a lawyer getting an elevated fee for this. However, fee arbitration is typically available in most states if you want to contest it.
You need to contact an attorney who specialize in malpractice. Discuss these issues with that lawyer to determine if the conduct of the lawyer is not proper. There are many issues, one for example is does the retainer agreement allow for the attorney to take the medpay ? That may be included, signed, and agreed to. Consult an attorney immediately.
First, I am sorry for your loss. While the scenario you describe does seem odd, it is not unheard of for to use medical payments money as seed money to get a client's case off the ground. Your post says the wrongful death case was dropped, but yet it sound like another heir wants to proceed with a wrongful death claim.
Perhaps a personal meeting with the attorney and the heir that wants to proceed with the wrongful death claim would be a good idea to answer your questions. After that, you are free to get a second opinion about the case and even perhaps consult with an attorney who represents parties that make claims against lawyers. Do not delay as time is always of the essence in legal matters.
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Sounds like it could be unusual as you describe it. The contract with the attorney will probably tell the story. The recovery may be used to pay down costs or may have been described in the attorney fee agreement specifically. Start there.
Medpay is something that is paid out when a condition occurs (for example, there is an injury or a loss or a car crash). Once the event triggering Medpay occurs, the payment is automatic. The insurance company is required to pay you. No legal skill is really required to get the Medpay (unless the insurer is exercising bad faith and refusing to pay). I normally tell my clients that I will not take any fee off their Medpay, unless the insurance company is refusing to pay. In that instance, a lawyer's help may be needed to get the payment, and so in that rare instance, taking a fee off Medpay would be OK. Keep in mind also that attorney ethical rules vary from state to state, and your state may have a specific rule on the subject. In addition, the contract you sign with your lawyer may have specific provisions which govern how he is paid and what he can take a fee on. If you are negotiating with your lawyer, I would point out to him that it is unfair for him to take a fee off a settlement check which the defendant was required to pay, and for which no legal skill was required.
I don't think it is prohibited, but it certainly isn't something which is very common or recommended. Stinks of ethical problems.
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