Can I sue my own attorney? 39 Answers as of May 31, 2013

I had a lawyer 4 years ago. I won my case and got a settlement. When I turned 18 I was supposed to be able to get my money. But the lawyer is not answering my phone calls or messages.

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Law Office of William L Spern | William Spern
You have one year from turning 18 to file suit. You can also file a grievance with the State Bar of Michigan against the attorney.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 12/12/2011
Touchstone Law Firm, LLC
Touchstone Law Firm, LLC | Dmitry David Balannik
Your money should be in an escrow account somewhere, not necessarily with your attorney.
Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
Replied: 12/6/2011
Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP
Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP | Kevin Habberfield
Perhaps you put your money in an annuity? If so, you won't be able to get a payment until whenever you chose to have it delayed to. Go to your attorney's old office and ask your parents if they have any paperwork from the case. There should be an infant compromise or infant approval order somewhere which will tell you where your money is. Also, you can check with the court your case was in as well and search their documents. It's possible your attorney has closed shop or worse so you may have to look in other places. Either way, it's not something that requires suit. Just find your money as it is in a bank or an insurance company has it.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 12/5/2011
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
Write to or contact the state bar online. Tell the bar the problem. It will contact the attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/5/2011
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
The clerk of court probably has your money.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 12/3/2011
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    Yes, you can. You may also want to file a grievance with the Sc Office of Disciplinary Counsel. You can probably find this process by Googling South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Council.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Law Office of Sam Levine, LLC
    Law Office of Sam Levine, LLC | Sam L. Levine
    This is not a good situation. It is best to handle this matter delicately and without strong threats. These types of matters usually require surgical precision.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    If you were a minor, a conservator was probably appointed to handle the proceeds. You need to look to the conservator, who was probably one or both of your parents.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    You don't need to sue. Contact the local grievance committee in you area.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C. | Robert Kelly
    Lawyers have an ethical duty to communicate with their clients. RPC 1.4. However, since you were a minor, it was probably your parents who were the clients, officially. You should ask your parents to contact the attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    If the case was settled there should be a court order in your case file that you can get a copy of in the court. It will say where your money was put. Start with that.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    J Wayne Turley BC
    J Wayne Turley BC | Wayne Turley
    You can sue a lawyer but hopefully your won't need to do that. Do you have documents about the settlement? If you do, look for them and find out what you can on your own. If that is not enough to answer your questions, talk to your parents or guardian and ask for their help in communicating with your lawyer. Your parents may have documents that show where the money is deposited and depending on whether it is restricted or not, they may be able to help you obtain the funds. Ask your parents or guardians if they have documents concerning the settlement or who was appointed conservator of your funds. If you need the lawyer's help, try calling each day for a few days. Try to speak with his or her secretary and see if there is a reason he/she is not returning your call, such as being out of town, etc. Next, try making an appointment with the lawyer and go in and speak with him/her in person and find out the details about your settlement and where the funds are deposited and how you can have access to them. If you cannot make an appointment, I would next suggest calling the State Bar Association and asking how you can make a complaint against your lawyer for not communicating with you and not helping you obtain your money. Ask for their help. If you obtained a settlement of a case when you were a minor, ordinarily such a settlement must be approved by a judge depending on the amount. If it was large enough to require court approval, there would be documents concerning the settlement and the appointment of a guardian or conservator and the restriction of the funds. Check with the Superior Court in the county where you were living four years ago and see if there is a case on file for you. If so, you can obtain copies of all the documents and see where the funds are deposited and what is needed to release them. You may have to petition the court for an order releasing the funds to you before a bank will release them to you. Only in an extreme case where you cannot find out about your funds after taking the actions listed above, or there are no funds for some reason, or if the lawyer failed to take the actions he or she should have taken to preserve your settlement funds, should there be any need for a lawsuit against the attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    McKell Christiansen
    McKell Christiansen | Michael McKell
    Yes you can sue your attorney but I would imagine it will not be necessary. I would send the attorney a certified letter requesting he/she contact you immediately. If you do not receive contact from the attorney, contact the State Bar Association and commence a complaint against the attorney. Settlement funds for minor are always protected in protected funds and annuities in Utah and I would imagine it would be the same where you are. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Gilbert & Bourke, LLP | Brian J. Bourke
    Yes you can. Consult with an attorney who specializes in legal malpractice claims and also contact the State Bar of California about your concerns. You should also ask your parent or guardian what happened on the case. When a minor's case settles, the settlement is to be approved by the Court and the net money to the minor is to be placed in a "blocked account", i.e., an account that no withdrawals can be made without prior Court approval. The account is in the minor's name under the Guardian Ad Litem, generally the parent. When the minor turns 18, he can go directly to the bank and withdraw the funds.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC | Paul S. Bovarnick
    You can, but you may not need to. You need to hire a lawyer to contact your first lawyer. Your first lawyer me be more responsive to another lawyer. If the first lawyer has absconded with your money, then you may be able to present a claim to the Oregon Client Security Fund. The Fund can make whole a client whose lawyer stole the client's funds. But you should start by getting a lawyer to help you.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    There should either be a conservatorship set up in Court with your money or your parents got it if it was under $5,000. It could also have been placed in a structured settlement. I'm guessing the attorney doesn't have it.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Office of Joshua Pond | Joshua Pond
    If you have concerns about or were harmed by the actions of an attorney, you may have several causes of action. The first thing I would do is call the Oregon State Bar and discuss it with them. They can give you the information you need to file a complaint against the attorney or refer you to an attorney who handles these sorts of professional negligence claims.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Wooten, Kimbrough & Normand, P.A.
    Wooten, Kimbrough & Normand, P.A. | Council Wooten
    If you have a valid claim, you can sue your lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | David C. Ayer
    You should write to the attorney, sending your letter certified mail with return receipt requested, include a copy of the settlement agreement, explain you are now 18 and entitled to the settlement, and that you now wish to receive the settlement. If the lawyer does not respond, write again, certified with receipt, explain the situation again. If this does not prompt a response, contact the Board of Bar Overseers with copies of the above documentation and proofs of delivery to file a complaint. You should then retain counsel. You may sue the attorney within three years of the date of the event giving rise to your suit (the failure to pay your settlement to you).
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Meyer & Kiss, LLC | Daniel Kiss
    An attorney can be sued for improper handling of a client's money. Before you sue, I would make sure the money was not placed into an account you may already have access to. You should also send a letter certified mail to the attorney stating that you will report the matter to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission unless the attorney contacts you immediately to explain where your money is kept.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink | Steven Alan Fink
    Send the lawyer a demand letter, asking the to distribute the settlement proceeds to you within 7 days. CC the letter to the State Bar. You will hear from the lawyer or you will file a complaint with the State Bar.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Harris Personal Injury Lawyer
    Harris Personal Injury Lawyer | Ryan D. Harris
    You would be well served to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before settling your case with the insurance company. An attorney can properly evaluate the property's potential liability and give you sound advice on what you should do or not do on your case. If the property is liable for your injuries, they would be responsible to take care of the usual and customary medical expenses you reasonably incurred as a result of your injuries. They would also be responsible for your general damages, which include mental anguish, emotional distress, pain & suffering, etc. How much to ask for in general damage is also something you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney about.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Moody Jones Ingino & Morehead | Charles A. Morehead III
    Yes you can. He should return your calls. A call to the Florida Bar should also be made regarding a grievance.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    Certainly you can sue your own attorney, but the bottom line is that you want to get your money. I would go to the local bar association and explain your plight to them and ask them how to go about filing a complaint with the Florida Bar, which should get you some answers.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Craig Kelley & Faultless
    Craig Kelley & Faultless | David W. Craig
    If you settled when you were a child then the court should have approved the settlement and usually one or both of your parents are made your Guardian. The money then is typically deposited in a restricted bank account with instructions to the bank to not allow withdrawals unless there is a court order. If your case was filed with a court and you know what court it was I would start off by contacting that court. You should talk to your parents to see which one was appointed as your guardian. If your lawyer did something wrong then she/he can be held responsible. You would want to contact a lawyer as soon as possible because of the statue f limitations. I think that you should have two years from the time you turn 18 years old. It could be sooner if you were emancipated(on your own) before you were 18.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm | Spencer E. Farris
    I doubt that you need to sue your attorney. If a case settles and the plaintiff is a minor, the money should either be held in a restricted account, an annuity, or in the probate court. Go to the court where the settlement occurred and check the file for the Approval of a Minor's settlement. It should have the info you need.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC | Stephen R. Chesley
    If you were an infant when the case settled in New York, an infant compromise would have been needed to settle the case. That meaning, you appeared before the Court and an order was issued by the judge, putting your settlement in a bank until you were 18. Therefore, if said was done, your monies probably have been deposited in a bank in the county in which you resided or the case appeared in.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    Do you have a copy of the Infant Compromise Order? If NO, get a copy from the court file and take it to the bank listed in the order with your ID. This really has nothing to do with your attorney any more.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Offices of Tom Patton
    Law Offices of Tom Patton | Thomas C. Patton
    Normally the money is deposited in a bank account in your name, and the name of a parent or guardian who opened the account for you. I would ask your parent or guardian before resorting to litigation.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Offices of Michael Stephenson
    Law Offices of Michael Stephenson | Michael Stephenson
    You can sue the lawyer, but you will almost certainly lose the lawsuit. There is no requirement that the attorney answer your phone calls or messages if he is no longer representing you. My advice would be to ask him as nicely as you can for help, or else to find a different lawyer to help you. You are allowed to have a new attorney help you to enforce the settlement Note however, that if the lawyer actually has the money that belongs to you, it's an entirely different story. In that case, you should contact the California State Bar and ask them for help.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Holzer Edwards
    Holzer Edwards | Kurt Holzer
    The answer is yes you can sue your attorney. Whether you need to or not is another question. Contact your state bar associations ethics counsel and tell them what is happening. This should help get your lawyer off the dime.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Eftekhari Law Offices
    Eftekhari Law Offices | Ehsan Eftekhari
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/31/2013
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C.
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. | Steven A. Schwartz
    Your attorney most certainly has an obligation to communicate with you. If you have tried numerous times and have failed, I suggest you call one more time and let the attorney know that you will contact the Board of Bar Overseers in Massachusetts if you don't hear back. The BBO is responsible for the ethical conduct of all attorneys in Massachusetts. I am guessing that the attorney will respond when he or she hears this. Best of luck.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Downriver Injury and Auto Law | Michael Heilmann
    The statute of limitations is two years for legal malpractice. You may contact the Attorney Grievance Commision if you believe a lawyer has taken your money.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/1/2011
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