January 8, 2015 • Personal Injury FAQs
If a settlement offer is made in an accident case, wrongful death, or medical malpractice case, does your attorney have to inform you about the settlement offer. The answer is yes, your lawyer has to tell you about the settlement offer.
Your Attorney is Legally Obliged to Inform You About a Settlement Offer
Your attorney not only has a legal obligation to tell you about the settlement offer, but he also has an ethical obligation in revealing to you that a settlement offer has been made. The bottom line is when the defense makes an offer of settlement to your attorney, your attorney must convey to you this offer by telling it over the phone or by meeting you personally.
Your lawyer must discuss the settlement offer with you, because you are the one who has to make the actual decision about whether or not to accept the settlement offer. You have to understand the risks and benefits of accepting or rejecting the settlement offer.
Your Attorney is Obliged to Give You His Recommendations
Your attorney not only has the obligation of informing you about the settlement offer but also to provide you with his legal opinion, using his experience and knowledge, about whether or not this is the final offer, or whether or not he can get you additional money. Based upon this information and based upon your own knowledge and experience, you have to make a decision whether or not you can accept or reject that settlement offer.
Your Attorney cannot Force You to Take the Offer
However, you need to keep in mind that even if your attorney tells you not to accept the offer, you can still go ahead and accept that settlement offer. If you accept it, your attorney then has the obligation to notify the defense that the offer has been accepted and case has been settled. What happens on the other hand if your attorney tells you to accept the settlement offer, since he feels the defense is not going to offer anything more. Suppose you reject his advice and you say that you are not going to take the settlement offer as you case is worth much more, and you prefer to go to trial.
Now does your attorney have the obligation of transmitting this information to the defense and also go forward and take your case all the way to trial. The answer to this question is also a yes. Your attorney is obliged to convey your decision to the defense, even when you are rejecting the offer, and he is also obliged to continue, and fight your case at trial.
This is usually what goes on when a settlement offer is made in an accident case or medical malpractice case. Your attorney has the obligation to not only inform you about it but also give his recommendations about whether or not you should accept the offer or reject it. However, your lawyer cannot force you to agree with his recommendations, and ultimately you only have the power to make this decision. Your lawyer will have to go by whatever decision you make, and even if it means fighting at trial against his recommendations.