Can the lawyer settle my case without me knowing about it?

No!!! It is your attorney’s job to keep you informed about settlement offers on your claim, and he is absolutely prohibited from settling your case without your consent. Typically, what we will do, when we obtain the first offer from the insurance company on your claim, is to contact you and advise you about the settlement offer, and of our opinion as to where the case may end up in terms of settlement. At that point, decisions will likely be made by you and the attorney together as a range of figures that would be acceptable as settlement of the claim. If it is clear from an early stage that the insurance company is making an improper evaluation of the claim, i.e. they are too low, then it is possible that the client and attorney may decide together at that point to simply discontinue negotiations and file suit.

 

In most circumstances, however, the best decision at that point is to discover the insurance company’s highest authority on the claim, and make the decision together as to how to proceed, after obtaining that final and highest offer.

 

The only exception to your consent on settlement of your claim is where you simply disappear, and after making reasonable efforts, we are unable to find you. Unfortunately, this has happened a few times, albeit on very rare occasions. In that circumstance, our retention contract with you permits us to make a settlement decision on your claim that we feel is in your best interests. This may be absolutely essential, to avoid the running of any statutes of limitations in the loss of any potential recovery on your claim.

 

After obtaining a settlement on your behalf in that circumstance, your portion of the settlement funds would be held in an escrow account until such time as the relevant state bar ethics provisions require us to release the funds. After that, it is possible that your money would have to be paid into a state fund.

 

It is therefore essential that you stay in communication with your attorneys, and make sure they are aware of any changes in your address and/or phone numbers, in order to avoid this situation, and to make sure that we are able to keep you fully informed as to the status of your claim.