I am in the middle of a personal injury pre-suit settlement. We started our initial demand at $275,000.00 and the standard negotiating began. For one reason or another, the insurance company denied allegations and we ended up offering them $75,000.00 to make this all go away. They came back at $25,000.00 but after the contingency agreement (no real expenses besides mail) it didn't leave me with enough to walk away ($15,000.00). I said no, against my attorneys advice and advised her to continue negotiations at the risk of the offer.
I don't need the money. I am basing this on what I feel is right. I know, not the rational way to do it, but that's the way I value it. Well after pushing my attorney to continue negotiations they increased their offer to $50,000.00. This amount although double the initial offer, doesn't leave me with the minimum amount of money I was willing to accept. The amount I am willing to accept is $40,000.00. At this offer, I am only going to receive $30,000.00.
I am willing to risk it all for the additional $10,000.00, but my attorney is not. I am in a contingency agreement. What are my options? So far he has only sent 2 letters and 3 phone calls.
What you are willing to accept and what your case is worth are 2 different things. Trials are expensive and, event though you may not be paying anything out of your pocket now, the trial expenses may be coming out of your judgment later. $40,000 for trial expenses is not uncommon. If it wasn't about the money, you would have already settled and put the matter behind you. It is common for clients to minimize the effort of their attorneys when it comes time to paying them. First, the attorney has agreed to handle your case and advance costs at no interest to with the risk that he or she may never be reimbursed for the costs or paid. Just to handle your case, an attorney must maintain expensive insurance and keep an office open and staffed. There is also much that has occurred behind the scenes of which clients are not aware in a personal injury case. You do not mention the first meeting with the attorney that must have occurred plus your calls and questions. Additionally, the attorney had to obtain your medical records, employment records and other documents just to prepare to write the first demand letter. The phone calls may be just phone calls to you but the attorney has had years of expensive education and experience which allow the attorney to say the right things in the right way in order to increase the offer. You may think you have a great case but a jury may not and you could walk away with zero. If you are adamant about trying your case and your attorney refuses, you can terminate your attorney and try to find someone else who thinks the way you do. However, your first attorney will have a lien on anything you receive for his or her fees and costs plus you will owe the new attorney. Not knowing the details and actual value of your case, no attorney on this forum can tell you how much to accept or whether to proceed to trial. That is a discussion to be had between your current attorney and you and you should be aware of all the defenses to your claims including liability arguments, contributory negligence, pre-existing conditions, prior injuries, exaggeration of conditions, as well as how a jury would superficially perceive you. That being said, a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.
This response is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship nor to be relied upon as definitive legal advice with regard to your issue. It is impossible to provide precise advice tailored to your specific situation without a comprehensive information-gathering consult. This attorney cannot stress enough how much easier and cheaper it is for you to prevent a legal problem by consulting with an attorney initially than it is to fix a problem afterwards. Please post your follow-up questions in the comments to your question so that others may benefit.
As for the demand, it is easy to type "zeros" after a one. That doesn't mean a jury will give yo what you want or that - after the cost of a jury trial - you will net more than you would receive now.
You are always free to get another attorney, but your first attorney - as noted - will have a lien for his costs and for the work that he did. As noted, you didn't hire the attorney for the amount of hours he would put in; you hired him because you thought he would get you the most as quickly as possible.
You could pay another attorney to review the file and give you their opinion as to the value of the case. However, at best, those opinions are "guestimates" not unlike home appraisers telling you what they think the house is worth. Nevertheless, you could use that to see if the current offer is unreasonable.
You might be well advised to seek a second opinion for an impartial evaluation of your entire case and options including the probable amount of your attorney's lien. The fact that you are willing to risk some or all of $ 30,000.00 or worse for $10,000.00 is of concern.
My response is my casual opinion and should not be taken or relied upon as legal advice. No communication here is intended to establish an attorney-client relationship.
If you're not happy with your current attorney you have an option of seeking alternate counsel. Try sitting down and getting a second opinion. Depending on the facts another attorney might recommend a different course of action. Sometimes insurance companies do not start taking a case seriously before a lawsuit. Please try calling and scheduling a consultation with one of the attorneys on here - you've given some pretty helpful information already, but they need to know more about the extent of your injuries and the facts of your case before telling you whether 50K is a great offer or a horrible offer.
I see this as an issue: " I never have spoke to attorney". You need to. Also, the more you incur in expenses will decrease your return, meaning you need to get more. At some point you need to fish or cut bait. I jury who cant agree on coffee, lunch and donuts is going to decide your fate. They can give you more, less or nothing at all.
If my answer is "HELPFUL" and/or the "BEST ANSWER" please mark it accordingly.The content of responses to questions on this site should not be construed as formal legal advice and is for general, practical, illustrative‚ and for informational purposes only. The information in these question responses should not be used in place of a consultation with an attorney‚ or used to make legal decisions. Answers to Avvo questions do not constitute or imply any attorney-client relationship, nor do they provide a prediction of the outcome of your specific legal matter.
If you think that all your attorney has done is write two letters and make 3 phone calls in your case, I think you are wrong. Since your case has not been filed yet, perhaps your attorney should file suit and commence discovery and indicate to the insurance carrier that he is willing to take your case to a jury. You have much more leverage if you litigate the case and do well with your Dr. testimony etc.
Some attorneys do not like to actually file lawsuits and litigate, relying on pre-suit settlements. Such an attorney disadvantages you as the plaintiff. You should speak with your attorney about whether or not he actually litigates and, if he does, why he has not commenced suit on your case. You are in control of the final settlement amount, not your attorney. If you think the offers too low, turn it down and proceed to suit and potential trial.
Legal Disclaimer: If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
Trial lawyers try cases. If the insurance company is low balling you, have your lawyer try the case before a jury!
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