Can My Lawyer Settle My Personal Injury Claim Without Me?

Your lawyer cannot settle your personal injury claim without your consent. It does not matter whether the amount is larger than estimated or what was expected. For an attorney to settle a claim without a client’s consent is a serious ethical violation. It is not something an honest attorney would do. Report any such violation to the New York State Bar Association.  

Of course, an attorney can recommend that the client accept the settlement offer or turn it down. The reasons for the acceptance or denial recommendation are made clear to the client. All financial information, including expenses and fees, is taken into consideration. It is the client who makes the decision. Consent is given either verbally or in writing.

A New York City personal injury lawyer at Douglas and London can help you receive the maximum compensation you deserve for your injury. We will guide you through every step of the process.

Settlement Negotiations

The insurance company or defendant’s attorney will usually make a low initial offer. The plaintiff’s attorney will likely advise the client not to accept it, but it is always the client’s decision. From there, the plaintiff’s lawyer can make a counter-offer, after consulting with the client.

If the insurance company declines to accept it, and their final offer is insufficient, the client and their attorney may decide at that point to pursue a lawsuit. This can also be a consideration if it appears the insurance adjuster has incorrectly evaluated the claim.

Settlement Terms

The terms of the settlement may go beyond money. The defendant’s attorney may want specific language or restrictions included to which the plaintiff must agree. For example, the defendant may include terms preventing the plaintiff from discussing the financial settlement or otherwise publicizing the case.

Settlement Acceptance

When it comes to the point in the process where it appears negotiations are favorable, the lawyer and the client discuss what is and is not an acceptable settlement amount.

The client receives a copy of the proposed gross settlement with all relevant costs included. This includes an estimate of attorney’s fees, medical expenses, insurance liens, taxes, and associated costs. When the numbers are put before the client, they then have the facts to make an informed decision.  

At Douglas and London, we can discuss the risks of taking the case to court. With a settlement, the client knows how much money they can expect to receive. Going to trial is very expensive, and if the plaintiff loses, they receive nothing. However, if the plaintiff wins, the damages awarded may be larger than the settlement offer.

Everything depends on the individual case

The lawyer and the client weigh the pros and cons of settling vs. going to trial. Insurance companies want to avoid going to trial and may settle if it appears the case is heading to court. It is possible to settle a case after a trial has started. In fact, many personal injury cases are settled in this way. Again, the client must agree to the settlement amount and all terms.

No Agreement

If your former lawyer accepted the settlement offer without telling you, it is critical that you obtain new legal counsel who can intervene. You must inform the insurance company directly that you did not agree to the settlement.

Generally, once a settlement agreement is made, there is no revisiting the issue. The insurance company sends out the checks, and the claim is closed. However, the claim is not closed until the client signs a settlement release. If you did not agree to a settlement and was sent a check, do not deposit it.

Contact Us At Douglas and London for a Free Consultation

If you did not agree to a settlement when represented by your former lawyer, an experienced personal injury lawyer at Douglas and London can work with the insurance company and investigate the situation. Schedule a free consultation 24/7 by phone or text or submit our online contact form.

After reviewing your claim, we will let you know whether there are grounds for a lawsuit. While most claims are settled, we will take your case to trial when necessary. There is never a fee unless you receive compensation. Hablamos Español.