Legal Question in Legal Malpractice in North Carolina

Lawyer at fault?

Signed for auto accident settlement check last week. it was not my fault. Disbursments of medical bills, lawyer fee, and $ to myself were outlayed on settlement letter-I signed it thinking it was all fine.

Get a bill in mail today from hospital saying i still owe 2200. that only 500 was paid. I call lawyer in disbelief, they call hospital and then tell me that YES i do still owe that!?!?!? This amount was never on disbursement sheet(just the 500 that was paid), yet i did hand over this bill to my lawyer many times. When I signed for the check, I was counting on my lawyer(and from my memory at the time)that it was all correct. It WAS her responsibility to pay my medical before even giving me my part.

She says that she will try and talk them down from 2200??!!

Is she not the one at fault here? I already settled...plus, she took her % of settlement without the $2200 bill listed.

Shouldn't this just be between the hospital and lawyer from here on out???

If she doesn't listen to me, can I sue her for malpractice or turn in a complaint against her?

thanks for your time..if possible can i hear back ASAP??!!

Thankyou

Asked on 2/25/04, 8:56 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

John Kirby Law Offices of John M. Kirby
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Re: Lawyer at fault?

That's a difficult situation. Here are a few thoughts. If you have any other source of money, you should pursue that. For example, if you had "first party" insurance, that might cover this; e.g. "medpay" under an automobile policy, or Blue Cross. Beyond that, the hospital may reduce its claim (or "lien"). Based on the facts as presented, I am puzzled at (1) why the attorney did not ensure payment of the medical bills (or have the lien reduced, or get more settlement money, especially if liability is clear) and (2) why you did not question the $500 amount (as you had seen the bill yourself). As a partial aside, the health care provider may have a claim against the attorney, for not protecting its lien. Finally, you may have a malpractice case, if the attorney failed to follow the customary procedures used by attorneys in the area under similar circumstances. You would still have to show "harm." I.e., if you could not have gotten a better settlement (and if the settlement amount was correctly based on the $2200 bill), then you may not have been harmed. Also, I wonder whether you may bear any "contributory negligence," by failing to raise any question as to the $500 payment, when you knew about the full bill. We really need more facts to give a good answer (e.g. amount of settlement, existence of other coverage). Perhaps you can wait-and-see whether the lawyer can get the medical bills resolved favorably.

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2/25/04, 10:43 pm

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