Settling Your Case Without Informed Consent

Blog, Legal Malpractice |

Navigating the decision to settle a lawsuit can be intricate, balancing assured outcomes against potentially favorable trial verdicts. Yet, when your lawyer settles your case without your approval, it can shatter trust and may even constitute legal malpractice.

Understanding Informed Consent

At the heart of the attorney-client relationship lies informed consent. Your legal representative must keep you abreast of all case developments, including settlement proposals. You possess the right to comprehend the terms of any proposed settlement and to make the final call on its acceptance. Settling without your consent violates this pivotal right and could signify a grave breach of your attorney’s obligations.

When Unauthorized Settlements Turn into Malpractice

Not every instance of unauthorized settlements automatically equates to malpractice. However, if the settlement significantly undershoots your case’s value, and your attorney fails to adequately explain the offer or pressures you into acceptance, you might have grounds for complaint. Here are some warning signs:

  1. The settlement offer falls substantially below your potential damages without a reasonable justification, suggesting possible negligence.
  2. Your attorney neglects to conduct a thorough investigation, potentially resulting in undervaluation of your claim.
  3. You feel coerced into accepting the settlement, although your attorney should present its merits and demerits, leaving the final decision to you.

Safeguarding Yourself and Pursuing Action

Should you suspect your attorney settled your case without your informed consent and it caused significant harm, swift action is imperative. Consider these steps:

  1. Document everything, retaining copies of all correspondence with your attorney regarding the settlement offer.
  2. Seek counsel from another lawyer experienced in legal malpractice to assess if your rights were infringed.
  3. Contemplate legal recourse; if your attorney’s conduct amounts to malpractice, you might be eligible to sue for damages resulting from the inadequate settlement.

Settling a lawsuit demands collaborative decision-making between you and your attorney. Never succumb to pressure to accept a settlement you don’t comprehend or endorse. If you suspect your attorney acted without your informed consent, don’t hesitate to voice your concerns and seek legal advice. Remember, you deserve legal representation that honors your rights and priorities.