Can an attorney settle a personal injury case for less thanyour expenses, etc?

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Can an attorney settle a personal injury case for less thanyour expenses, etc?

I was in a car accident that wasn’t my fault. My attorney says I am only being offered $8,000, and out of that but I will only see $3,000. What can I do? Can she do this? Can she just settle and take my money like this? What can I do? I have waited 6 months for only $3,000. My medical isn’t even being paid, just my her (my ) and the chiropractor that I went to for 6 weeks. I lost my hours at my job because of this accident. I have to catch public transportation to school. I also now am not able to get a car. I have to wake hours early. No car company is going to lend me money. She just said that my injury wasn’t serious enough and the insurance company won’t pay out anymore. I have a college tuition to pay.

Asked on November 12, 2010 under Personal Injury, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Legally, a case can be settled for any amount that the parties agree to. However, the  key is, the PARTIES must agree--the lawyers merely do their bidding. If the attorney settles against your instructions or without consulting with you, she has likely committed malpractice and you may have grounds to sue her. So while you may wish to consider carefully her advice, at the end of the day, it's your choice whether to settle or not--and you can even fire your lawyer and even file an ethics complaint against her if you feel that she is not representing your interests (lawyers have a legal and ethical obligation to zealously look after their clients' interests). Try doing some research on your own to get a sense for what is reasonable--many settlements and verdicts can be found on the web. Look for accidents with similar amounts of injury and costs as yours.


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