My attorney kept my settlement money

With so many law firms touting million-dollar settlements, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you may not have received enough for your case.

The truth is that there are so many factors that go into determining a settlement and that each case is unique. One of the major factors considered for settlement amount is the extent of the injuries. If your injuries are small, the fact of the matter is that your settlement will be too.

Aside from the value of your case, there is also the matter of legal and medical fees that need to be paid out.

Generally, when a case has reached an agreement, you will be required to sign a release. This document should have the exact gross amount of your settlement.

The gross amount of your settlement is the total dollar amount that is awarded for your damages and pain and suffering. From this gross settlement the attorney’s fees are calculated, and medical costs are paid. Net recovery is what you will receive once all bills and expenses have been squared away.

In personal injury cases:

  • Your attorney works on contingency and takes his fees from your settlement – a percentage of your total settlement.
  • Your medical care is provided upfront with no out-of-pocket payment, therefore your compensation is used to reimburse these costs.

Contingency fees are generally between 33 and 40 percent. This percentage may increase should your case go to trial.

Taking a second look at your retainer agreement should clear up any doubts you have about contingency fees.

You can always contact your attorney and request a copy of the offer letter and a copy of the check.

When you enter into a contingency agreement with your lawyer, his fees are paid from your final settlement – as well as any additional costs he may have fronted. These include:

  • Police reports
  • Investigators
  • Filing fees
  • Expert witness fees

It’s natural to expect your check once a settlement is reached. However, the settlement process can take up to six weeks. Once the settlement is agreed upon, your attorney may reach out to your health insurance and medical providers to attain any liens. He should also at this time negotiate down the liens so that you’re able to walk away with more money. The following steps are taken towards getting you a final settlement check:

  1. Document and release signing
  2. Release processing and cutting of the check
  3. Your lawyer receives the check and pays your liens. Unpaid debts paid by your settlement check include:
    • Medical treatment
    • Medical bills
    • Your attorney should work to reduce medical liens for your maximum benefit
  4. Your attorney’s legal fees and costs are deducted from the settlement amount

Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf to get you the best settlement possible, and then will require a large percent of that settlement as his payment – therefore it is essential to hire the right attorney for your case. Not only do you want someone who will be your advocate, but someone you can trust.

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