If you have retained a personal injury lawyer and have reached a settlement or other resolution of your case. In that case, you should expect a detailed accounting from the attorney regarding the allocation of the settlement proceeds.
What Should You Know After a Settlement?
Gross Settlement Amount
The total settlement amount should be the top line of any accounting. This number will be the amount the case “settled for”.
Case Expenses (detailed)
The allocation of the settlement sheet should have a detailed listing and include all expenses incurred by the firm that is sought to be reimbursed by the client. Many personal injury law firms keep track of expenses differently. The attorney owes you a detailed account of their out-of-pocket expenses for your case. When in doubt about an expense, look to the employment contract first.
Medical Bills to be Paid Out of the Settlement
Additionally, if any medical expenses or other liens are to be paid from the settlement proceeds, those should also be covered in the distribution sheet accounting. If you are injured in an auto accident, your car accident attorney may help you get the necessary treatment. They may need to pay for the care out of your settlement.
Ask Questions if You Don’t Understand
If you are unsure about any item on the settlement statement, you should ask for backup from your attorney or clarification. Additionally, before 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. Ask for a rough estimate from your attorney on settlements when considering acceptance of a deal.
If the Case was a Personal Injury Contingency Fee- an Agreement Must Have Been Signed
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. Reading the agreement and understanding it before you sign it is an important step in retaining an attorney to help you.
Choose a Reputable Attorney
While most attorneys use similar forms and charge a similar percentage of fees, one should ensure 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 to make an informed and proper choice.
The litigation process can be very stressful and time-consuming, and you must have confidence in the attorney you choose to help you through the process.
Be Wary of Too Busy Attorneys
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.
Find Out Who Will Do the Work?
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 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.
Do Research on the Lawyer Before You Sign
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!
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