If an insurance company makes a settlement offer after your bicycle accident, your attorney is legally and ethically obligated to inform you of the offer and to check with you before accepting it. The acceptance or rejection of an offer can have a major impact on your personal injury case and ultimately determine the amount of money you will recover for your accident-related damages.
Max Meyers Law PLLC knows that while it is our job to advise our clients, it is ultimately their decision whether to accept or reject any settlement offers that come their way.
Can My Lawyer Settle My Claim Without Informing Me?
No, an attorney cannot settle a case without the client’s consent and authorization. Attorneys are required to promptly inform clients of all settlement offers, even if they seem unacceptable or unreasonable. The client must then decide whether to accept or reject the offer. Attorneys can advise clients on what to do, and help determine whether the offer is fair, based on their knowledge and experience. In the end, however, it is up to the client to decide what the next steps should be.
What should I do if my attorney settled my claim without checking with me?
If your attorney accepts a settlement offer without your consent, they have violated a fiduciary duty owed to you as their client and committed an ethical violation.
If your attorney accepted a settlement offer that you did not want to accept, you will need to take immediate action by:
- Firing your attorney and hiring new representation– If your attorney accepted a settlement offer without consulting you, they are not acting in your best interest. You are strongly encouraged to find a new attorney to represent you in all matters relating to your bicycle accident.
- Reviewing your retention contract – When a personal injury attorney agrees to represent you in your bicycle accident case, you will likely have to sign a written retention agreement that will specify the terms of your attorney/client relationship during your case, including whether your attorney has the authority to make settlement decisions on your behalf. Have your new attorney review the retention contract and other documents to make sure your attorney did not have the authority to agree to settle.
- Contacting the insurance company – When your attorney accepted your offer, the insurance company may have closed your file and written you a check for the “agreed upon” amount. That is why you need to contact the insurer as soon as possible to let them know that you did not authorize your attorney to accept the offer and that the attorney who accepted the offer no longer represents you. You should then provide the insurer with the contact information of your new attorney, so that the insurer can work directly with your new attorney to resolve the case.
- Reporting your former attorney – Your attorney violated ethical rules by accepting an offer without checking with you first and should be held accountable for their actions. Go to the state bar website to download the forms necessary to report the attorney’s wrongful conduct. The state bar can punish the attorney by suspending or revoking their license. You may also be able to file a malpractice claim against your attorney.
Attorneys are responsible for keeping clients informed regarding all aspects of the case, including settlement offers. Your attorney may think they know what is best for your case, but that does not mean they can make decisions without you. Attorneys and their clients should work together to make decisions and evaluate settlement offers. However, if there is a disagreement on how you should proceed, you have the final say.
If your attorney wrongfully settled your bicycle accident claim without your consent, it may cost you a lot of money. Additionally, you may lose faith in your attorney and feel that they do not have your best interests at heart.
Contact Max Meyers Law PLLC at 425-399-7000. We listen to our clients and work with them to make the best possible decisions to benefit their claims.