Can my lawyer drop me as a client if I don't want to settle in Kingston, New York?
There is only one person who decides whether you settle the case...YOU. Your lawyer is simply acting as your agent and you are the principal--this means that you are the boss.
Some lawyers may try to strong-arm you to accept the first settlement offer they get. Not a good sign at all. While it is an important part of the attorney's responsibility to give you advice whether to accept a settlement offer, the decision belongs solely to you.
While hard to believe, there are some lawyers who settle cases without their client's knowledge. That's right--the client does not know until after the fact that his/her case settled. In this situation, the attorney may rely upon a provision in the retainer agreement or a power of attorney that gives the lawyer the authority to settle the case without the client's knowledge or permission. This is precisely why you must read the retainer agreement and all other documents very carefully--you may be signing away your rights!
What you can do to protect yourself
Here's a sample of the language included in every retainer agreement that I use: "It is understood and agreed that neither the client nor [me, John Fisher] shall settle any claims arising out of this incident without first having obtained the consent thereto of the other." It's simple: I can't settle your case without your permission.
My retainer agreement explicitly states that I cannot settle your lawsuit without first obtaining your permission. You want to make sure that the law firm that you hire has the same language in its retainer agreement.
You should never be pressured to make the decision whether to settle
If your lawyer gives you an ultimatum that you must settle or he/she will quit as your lawyer, then you are better off having the lawyer quit. You don't want him as your lawyer.
You are the one who must live with your decision, while your lawyer simply moves on to the next case. You should never feel pressured by your lawyer to do anything, especially when it comes to the decision whether to settle. If you don't know what to do, tell your lawyer you will take as much time as you need to make your decision. Your decision should never be rushed.
What you can do if you want more information
If you have questions or want more information, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can send me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request a FREE copy of my book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.