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Lawsuit Settlement Questions

Old 12-16-2008, 04:18 PM
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Default Lawsuit Settlement Questions

Lawsuit Settlement Questions

In Dec of 2007 my family and myself were involved in an auto accident on rte.95 in the Bronx of NY. The driver of a car in the RH lane loss control of his car and t-boned us directly in the passenger door where my wife was sleeping at the time. It was all very scary but thankfully our two sleeping children in the backseat were unharmed. My wife suffered several injuries the 1st of which was a fracture to her vertebrae which had her in a hard neck brace for 8-months this has since healed. She also suffered thoracic nerve damage, which is permanent, and she will require a major surgery and will only regain approx 60% of her right arm range of motion. She is upbeat and just wants all this to be over so she can get back to normal life.

Today our attorney called and said he would like to talk initially about settlement but nothing would be done until the surgery is completed and is as successful as we can hope for. My wife has also loss her job over this and as you know the job market is not looking good for when she is ready to get back to work.

Are there any attorneys in the forum who might give some advice on how negotiations should proceed? I worry that our attorney would push for an early settlement in order to close the case and take his 1/3 cut.

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Old 12-16-2008, 04:37 PM
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Default Re: Lawsuit Settlement Questions

Most contingency law contracts here in California call for a higher percentage to the attorney if the case goes to pretrial (depositions, etc.) and a still higher percentage if the case goes to court. Please review your agreement with the attorney to see if this is your situation; if so, and if he can secure a fair settlement, you're better off taking that route.

More importantly, though....where did you find your attorney? Personal injury cases with significant injuries can be complex and long. Your last comment suggests that you don't trust your attorney. Do you need to reconsider who represents you? A lot is at stake.
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Old 12-16-2008, 05:07 PM
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Default Re: Lawsuit Settlement Questions

A caviat......Wife and I were in a wreck 30 years ago and she had neck injuries. When we settled, her neck had improved considerably. We had no idea that her neck would hurt her the rest of her life.

So damn sure get enough money to pay for future treatment and suffering.

Good luck.



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Old 12-16-2008, 05:22 PM
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Default Re: Lawsuit Settlement Questions

I, too, agree with Sheila. Go back and look at your contract. I believe (I'm not an attorney) down here in FL the contract changes on the % the attorney gets paid on how far the case goes. Also, don't forget about costs, as the case goes further and further there are more costs which get taken out of the settlement. I believe Brett does PI in Florida, maybe he will be able to offer some assistance.

Although I know where I work attorneys are very hesitant to offer suggestions or advice because of possible lawsuit if something goes wrong because of the advice.
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Old 12-16-2008, 05:34 PM
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I'm sure that your attorney already told you, but just in case, don't forget that your insurance company might come looking for their cut of YOUR settlement to cover their costs.

My BIL received a "quick" settlement over a m/c crash in which the other driver was 100% at fault.

After the attorney took his cut, my BIL ended up with about 11K in cash.

His insurance company then went after him for their costs which exceeded 7K!

His bottom line wasn't even 5K (plus his bike was repaired, but his nagging wife made him sell it).

Your state laws may vary...

Good luck!
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Old 12-16-2008, 05:40 PM
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Default Re: Lawsuit Settlement Questions

SSheila - 12/17/2008 8:37 AM

Your last comment suggests that you don't trust your attorney. Do you need to reconsider who represents you? A lot is at stake.
If necessary, I presume you can change lawyers, the two sharing the same lawyer fees so it's not like you have to pay for two lawyers. I have no idea how they divide the fees/settlement; 50%-50% ?

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Old 12-16-2008, 05:48 PM
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Default Re: Lawsuit Settlement Questions

laws vary by state....in FL it is 33% if settled out of court and 40% if in court. Many do not work with this, but, the fee can be negotiated.
I have not heard of your own insurance co trying to subrigate you in this type of case.
Does NC have Uninsured motorist coverage? If so, you may have some further recourse there. Also, depending on the coverage limit of the at-fault party, you may only be able to recover so much from their policy(IE. if their policy limit is 10k, that is all you will get from their insurance). Have your lawyer go through their coverages with you and inform yourself as best possible. Determine what your wife's impairment rating will be and attempt to see what other similar cases have settled for.

I am cetainly not a lawyer, so consider speaking with another if you are not comfortable with your present representation.

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Old 12-16-2008, 05:52 PM
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Just as you I choose to get all the info I can This may help http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com...accidents.html
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:27 PM
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Default Re: Lawsuit Settlement Questions

Contingency attorney's certainly want cases to settle as they don't get paid until settlement. However, a typical slip/fall or auto accident settlement is mainly based on medical bills. The higher the medical bills, the larger the settlement. There are other factors involved determining settlement amount but from the most part it's medical bills as this is a decent gauge of how injured you really were. Your attorney may want to discuss settlement at this point to make sure you guys are all on the same page but if he's suggesting to wait until after surgery it's probably so your wife can finish medical treatment.

I'd meet with him, express your concerns, listen to his responses and if you aren't comfortable with the plan or his answers then you can decide if you need another attorney.
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:37 PM
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bstnsportsfan - 12/16/2008 5:22 PM

I, too, agree with Sheila. Go back and look at your contract. I believe (I'm not an attorney) down here in FL the contract changes on the % the attorney gets paid on how far the case goes. Also, don't forget about costs, as the case goes further and further there are more costs which get taken out of the settlement. I believe Brett does PI in Florida, maybe he will be able to offer some assistance.

Although I know where I work attorneys are very hesitant to offer suggestions or advice because of possible lawsuit if something goes wrong because of the advice.
LOL! No, most lawyers are hesitant to offer advice online because they know what it's like to be on the other side of internet/brother-in-law/free legal advice.
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:52 PM
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Default Re: Lawsuit Settlement Questions

As a spinal patiant myself [ broke L1L2L3L4L5 ] let me tell ya...............

It never is healed.

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Old 12-16-2008, 10:49 PM
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jko2004@knology.net - 12/16/2008 5:48 PM

I have not heard of your own insurance co trying to subrigate you in this type of case.












Sorry, I should have clarified...

Medical insurance company went after his settlement.


And some key words are "permanent and stationary".

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Old 12-16-2008, 11:11 PM
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Default RE: Lawsuit Settlement Questions

Very sorry to hear about the accident, and hope your wife is doing well with her recovery. You all were LUCKY!

I would certainly have a LONG list of questions for the lawyer - especially, if this is your initial interview concerning the accident.

A few questions that come to mind for YOU to think about and a few for you to ask YOUR lawyer AND your insurance company:

- Has YOUR insurance company paid YOU all that it can under the limits of YOUR policy?
- Has the OTHER driver's insurance company paid anything out to YOU, yet - over and above YOUR "coverage"?
- Was the other driver TICKETED (charged/found guilty) for the accident?
- What "state laws" apply to ligitating the case - NY or NC or ?
- I assume YOUR insurance company will go after the other driver for any payouts they make to you?
- Find out - SPECIFICALLY - (from your lawyer and/or insurance company) what "things" you can LEGALLY sue for (i.e. damages not covered under your policy, out-of-pocket medical bills not covered under your policy, loss of wages (wife AND you), "pain and suffering", lodging/meals after the accident, towing, car rental to return home, "future" medical needs, etc.). Some of these may be covered under your insurance, but I don't know which ones since I know nothing about your policy, and am NOT in the business.
- Can the loss of your wife's job be attributed to, or as a result of the accident?
- What is the LAWYER'S view on "when" the suit should go forth? (I know you have said something about AFTER your wife has had surgery, but what does the lawyer "feel" as a timeline?).
- What is YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY'S view on the above ^^^^^ ?
- What has transpired (communication, letters, interviews, etc.) between you and your lawyer/insurance company - if anything - and the OTHER driver's insurance company?
- Any "estimates", at this point, on medical costs to get your wife back to a "normal" lifestyle?
- Get SPECIFIC info on "charges" that you may/can expect from your lawyer, AND, if ANY of these charges can be included in the "suit".

Again, these are only some questions that I would be pondering if it were me - you may have already done a lot of this?

You don't need to post ANYTHING here - do NOT do ANYTHING to jeopardize your potential "case"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Shag" usually weighs in on these things if he sees them - I know he's in "insurance", but don't know which "kind(s)". And he may not be able to tell you but so much on a "forum".

Good luck!

Regards,




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Old 12-17-2008, 05:02 AM
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" I worry that our attorney would push for an early settlement in order to close the case and take his 1/3 cut. "

I am sure many attorneys sit there and say that they worry that their clients will push for a long and costly trial hoping for a windfall verdict.

It is a balancing game really. The longer the case drags on, the more it costs everybody involved and you are absorbing what essentially is execution risk in that any potential settlement does not maximize value to you vis-a-vis time and cost involved.

You really need to weigh the time value of money against a settlement now, versus a settlement a month, two months, a year, two years from now.

It matters not what your attorney "pushes" you to do, what matters is if the offer on the table is fair to you in your view. Of course, to do this, you must yourself remove emotion from the decision process and think of it as a business deal.
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Old 12-17-2008, 02:50 PM
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Default Re: Lawsuit Settlement Questions

Thank you for all the good information given here.
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:36 PM
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Default Re: Lawsuit Settlement Questions

hthoang - 12/16/2008 10:37 PM

bstnsportsfan - 12/16/2008 5:22 PM

I, too, agree with Sheila. Go back and look at your contract. I believe (I'm not an attorney) down here in FL the contract changes on the % the attorney gets paid on how far the case goes. Also, don't forget about costs, as the case goes further and further there are more costs which get taken out of the settlement. I believe Brett does PI in Florida, maybe he will be able to offer some assistance.

Although I know where I work attorneys are very hesitant to offer suggestions or advice because of possible lawsuit if something goes wrong because of the advice.
LOL! No, most lawyers are hesitant to offer advice online because they know what it's like to be on the other side of internet/brother-in-law/free legal advice.
Where I work, they are worried about a lawsuit or Bar complaint!
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:00 PM
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Old 12-18-2008, 05:11 AM
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Default Re: Lawsuit Settlement Questions

I would not settle until surgery is completed and you have an idea of the success/failure of same.

One issue is the amount of coverage the party at fault has. If a limited amount 50K, 100K, 300K, you may settle with them now for the policy limit with the permission of your carrier and then pursue an underinsured claim against your carrier, if you have that coverage.

Your wife's damages sound significant, you may have a 300K case, which sounds good, but what it really means is that your wife is going to have lifelong issues as a result of the accident.
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