Can an attorney settle out of court for client without client signing? 9 Answers as of October 18, 2017

The lawyer I was using on a case, he settled out of court for me. Nonetheless, he did not consult me nor did I sign any agreement saying he can settle for me. I was hit by a driver which was her fault. What shall I do?

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Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
You ultimately must sign off on the settlement because you must sign a release. Tell your attorney that you decline the settlement, if it is not in your best interest. Keep in mind, you may not get a better offer; and trial may not be cost effective.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 10/18/2017
Joel H. Schwartz, P.C.
Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. | Steven A. Schwartz
As the injured party, it is required that you sign a release that says you accept the money being offered. Unless you signed something allowing the attorney to make those decisions on your behalf, the attorney cannot do this without your consent and signature. I would speak with the attorney about this if you don't accept the offer so he or she can let the insurance company know that there is no agreement. If you don't get cooperation from your lawyer, contact the insurance company yourself and let them know.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 10/18/2017
Law Office of John G. Galasso | John George Galasso
He can negotiate a settlement, but the client must approve it
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 10/18/2017
Gregory M Janks, PC
Gregory M Janks, PC | Gregory M Janks
A Michigan attorney has an ethical duty to keep their client informed of the progress of the legal matter they are handling for the client. The attorney also has a duty to fully and fairly explain to the client their legal options and any offers of settlement. The case, and decisions whether to settle or not, belong to the client, not the attorney. Unless you have given the attorney authority to settle a case on your behalf, the attorney may not ethically settle the case, nor sign any papers agreeing to settle.? It is typical that if insurance is involved in paying any settlement that the paying insurer will require the client sign a Release. You likely will want a 2nd opinion from independent counsel as to whether your lawyer acted in your best interests in agreeing to the settlement you mention. Of course, you should get more particulars from your counsel as to the amount of the settlement, why they agreed to same without informing you, the benefits of the settlement, the likelihood of getting a better settlement and/or the pros and cons of rejecting the settlement and proceeding further, including to trial, how much their costs and fees are that they will expect to receive out of the settlement, what the settlement covers, etc. You are also entitled to hire new counsel and/or file a Grievance against your lawyer for failing to keep you informed (if that is in fact the case, which you indicate it is) and in settling the matter without your consent (if that is in fact what occurred, which you indicate it did). If your allegations are accurate, I do not think the State Bar would be happy with a lawyer who did not keep his client informed, explain the clients options and who acted to resolve a matter without the clients consent (again, assuming that is exactly what occurred).
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/18/2017
End, Hierseman & Crain, LLC | J. Michael End
Contact another lawyer to look everything over. Lawyer ethics generally require a client's consent to a settlement.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 10/18/2017
    Candiano Law Office
    Candiano Law Office | Charles J. Candiano
    The short answer is NO. That said, it is common for an attorney to make tentative agreements for his client. No insurance company will pay money without a Release signed by YOU. It is possible for you to give your attorney a "power of attorney" to sign your name. If you did not do this, you cannot be bound. That said, be careful what you do. If you fire your attorney AFTER he secured a firm offer, he will have a good faith claim to a fee on that amount. That will make it difficult or impossible to find another attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 10/18/2017
    Law Offices of Ronald A. Steinberg & Associates | Ronald A. Steinberg, BA, MA, JD
    The lawyer is your employee. He is supposed to act for your benefit. However, it gets murky when the client has unreasonable expectations. In my office if the client will not listen to my advice, I tell them to reimburse all the expense I have incurred, and advance all of the trial costs, and then I will try their case. Clients do not gamble with my money. If they won't do that, then they must get another lawyer, and I levy a lien for my costs, and for the fee based on the last settlement offer.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/18/2017
    Joseph Kelly Levasseur, Esq.
    Joseph Kelly Levasseur, Esq. | Joseph Kelly Levasseur
    An attorney can settle a case for you without any signature or written agreement but only with your authority to do so. Your attorney MUST get your permission to settle the case for a specific amount or specific terms. Keep in mind that you will have to sign a release at some point, so if you refuse to sign the release then you will be able to notify the other party you never agreed to do so. You should also research the professional rules of conduct for lawyers. You can file a complaint with the commission if you cannot get the settlement stopped and you believe there was no authority to do so. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 10/17/2017
    DEAN T. JENNINGS, P.C. | Dean T Jennings
    No, the attorney cannot settle without your consent and authority. You can reject the settlement and get another attorney ASAP.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 10/17/2017
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