If you have retained a personal injury lawyer and have reached a settlement or other resolution of your case, you should expect a detailed accounting from the attorney regarding the allocation of the settlement proceeds.
What Your Attorney Should Let You Know
The allocation or the settlement sheet should a detailed listing and include all expenses incurred by the firm that are sought to be reimbursed by the client. Additionally, if there are any medical expenses or other liens that are to be paid from the settlement proceeds, those should also be covered in the distribution sheet accounting.
If you are unsure about any item on the settlement statement you should ask for backup from your attorney or clarification. Additionally, prior to entering into any settlement refer to your engagement letter or agreement that sets forth the parameters of the pay for the attorney and reimbursement of expenses.
State Bar of Texas requires personal injury attorneys to have a signed representation agreement before representing a client in a personal injury matter. That agreement covers the rights and responsibilities of the attorney and the client. It goes without saying that reading the agreement and understanding it before you sign it is an important step in retaining an attorney to help you.
While most attorneys use similar forms and charge similar percentage of fees, one should make sure that the attorney they are considering is someone they are very comfortable with before signing the agreement. We recommend that clients speak to as many attorneys as they feel necessary in order to make an informed and proper choice.
The litigation process can be very stressful and time-consuming and it is important that you have confidence in the attorney you choose to help you through the process.
We suggest that folks should be leery of attorneys who have won big cases but do not seem to have the time for you after the paperwork has been signed. Personal service is necessary for personal injury.
We also suggest that you should ask the attorney you are considering, if they would be the one that would actually handle your case or if another associate or other attorney would actually do some work on your case.
There are many law firms where the partner signs the case up and someone else actually does the work on the file. In that case you may not be getting the bang for your buck that you thought when you signed the paperwork. So ask upfront if any other lawyer will do work on your case.
Spend a little time investigating the law firm and the attorney you are considering and you will save yourself a lot of grief later on!