My car accident
I was in a car accident 2 1/2 years ago and the case was settled. My lawyer contacted us about 6 months ago to tell us that my husband insurance may be seeking reimbursement for what they were billed for.We had received surveys from this company prior to the settlement which our lawyer said he would handle. Nothing else was said until October when our lawyer contacted us to tell us he had gotten a new job at an insurance company and was not going to be representing us any longer and by the way we still had an issue with my husband's insurance company. The insurance has contacted us to give us a dollar amount of that we owe them. I need to know if my lawyer who has left us high and dry acted appropiately.
2 Answers from Attorneys
Re: My car accident
There's no way to make a reliable conclusion based only upon the information which you've provided and without reviewing the relevant documents involved with the matter.
Re: My car accident
I agree. There are a great many potent issues
raised by your situation, including what the
insurance company reimbursed and what FOR, what
you recovered in your settlement and what FOR
(whether there is an overlap or not), whether
the insurance company under-compensated you,
and many other ways in which it was handled.
It is true that if you are paid once by the
insurance company and then paid AGAIN for the
same thing, the insurance company may have a
right to reimbursement. But what exactly is
"the same thing?" For example, if you have
bills of $50,000, and the insurance company
pays you only $30,000, and you win $30,000 in
court, then you received $60,000 for $50,000 of
bills. So maybe there is an excess of $10,000
that should go back to the insurance company.
But since the ins. co. did not fully cover your
bills (in this example) they cannot recover
money that pays for what they did not pay for.
Similarly, if the ins. co. paid you $30,000 for
$50,000 of insurance bills, and then you win
$100,000 including pain and suffering and other
such damages, the ins. co. CANNOT claim
reimbursement for the pain and suffering.
Because the insurance company never paid you for
those items in the first place, they cannot get
reimbursed for them either.
The governing principle is that you cannot get
paid TWICE for the same injury.
However... should your lawyer have dumped out
on you without finishing all aspects of the case?
No, he shouldn't. Technically the court case
was over, so this is a "soft" rule instead of a
"hard" one. He could not quit the court case
without the court's approval. But he should not
quit on you with unfinished business.
You should look carefully at your retainer
agreement with the attorney to see what his
responsibilities were. He may also have duties
under the rules of the State Bar.