Do Personal Injury Lawyers Try To Scam You In The Settlement?

This is from another Google search that someone used to find our website.

I’d like to tell you unequivocally that the answer to the question is “No.”  But I can’t  (after all, we do a lot of legal malpractice work also so we know what lawyers are capable of doing).   In truth, it’s really rare than a personal injury lawyer tries to scam a client in a settlement, but it does happen.  (Don’t let that be an indictment of lawyers, in general, or personal injury lawyers, specifically.  Every profession has a few bad apples.  I’d like to tell you lawyers are exceptions to that rule, but we’re not. )

The more important question may be, “What can clients do to protect themselves and minimize the risk that they will be victims of a lawyer’s scam?”  And the best answer is to be informed.  Most personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis.  In general, the attorney will receive the settlement funds or funds following a judgment and deposit the money in the attorney’s trust account.  Once the funds have cleared, the attorney will disburse the funds to all of the parties entitled to a portion of the settlement funds.  In general, the groups that generally receive part of personal injury funds are: 

  1.  The lawyers (who receive their fees and reimbursement for the expenses they advanced);
  2. Medical providers (who might have outstanding balances that are paid out of the funds); and 
  3. Subrogation interests (paying back health insurance companies,  Medicare, Medicaid, or any other group that may have paid part of the client’s medical expenses and/or paid for any of the client’s lost wages).

After all of these items are deducted, then the remaining funds are disbursed to the client. 

So how do clients protect themselves?  Make sure the calculations are done right and ask for documentation.  Clients should make sure that they understand their fee agreement with their attorneys so that the clients understand how the fees are calculated.  Clients should also not be afraid to ask for documentation to support the deductions.  Reputable personal injury lawyers should not have have any problem providing an accounting of expenses, including showing receipts and/or canceled checks for expenses.  Similarly, for payments made to medical providers or subrogation interests, the clients should be comfortable requesting copies of the checks written to each of these entities.  If the client still doesn’t trust the lawyer, the client may also call the medical providers or the subrogation interests to make sure that the payments were actually made.

Taking these steps will help protect the client and, if the lawyer is trying to cheat the client, help the client figure that out.

Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC maintains offices in Austin, Texas. However, our attorneys and lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Forth Worth, El Paso, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lockhart, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, Brenham, Cedar Park, Burnet, Marble Falls, Temple and Killeen. By Brooks Schuelke


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