What can we do if my dad was awarded a judgement and the attorney took it? 3 Answers as of January 18, 2012

My dad was struck by a car, the driver's insurance company refused liability, so my dad had a jury trial in the city of Pasadena, CA on the January 3, 2012. It ended on January 6, 2012. The jury awarded him $20,000 in the case. He was never informed that the jury was back and had made a decision. He was down stairs waiting for word of the verdict on a cell phone that his attorney provided him with during this case. My dad called me this morning very upset due to his attorney telling him after the case that he's going to end up with nothing out of the award. He said when he walked back in the court room he wondered why his attorney didn’t bother to call him to let him know that the jurors were back with a verdict. He informed my dad that he would get nothing because his medical costs are the majority of that $20,000. Now keep in mind that this doctor's office is the office the attorney referred him to for treatment. The expert witness for the defense clearly stated that the procedure on my dad had a standard charge of $3,500.00. I will know soon if the doctor that performed the surgical procedure on my dad billed his medical benefits for payment and is now claiming payment from this judgment. I need to know if he will be awarded the amount sent in check form and made payable to my dad and the attorney's office. Isn't that type of judgment given to the plaintiff in order to cover his pain and suffering, legal cost, and medical bills? How do I address this attorney to resolve this issue properly and fairly? I'm considering reporting him to the bar association, but I want to get another opinion first. He is obviously taking advantage of my dad because he's had some serious issues and is elderly.

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The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
Does not sound to me as if attorney to proceeds. It appears that jury awarded less than costs. It happens which is why the vast majority of cases settle.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/18/2012
Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law
Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law | Diana K. Zilko
Typically in a personal injury case there are mandatory expenses that need to be paid out of any settlement or recovery (i.e. attorney fees, costs, and liens). If any of the funds are left after those expenses are paid, then that amount will go to the client/injured party. The attorney needs to provide a written breakdown of the total expenses, so that the client knows exactly where the money is going.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/18/2012
Gilbert & Bourke, LLP | Brian J. Bourke
Generally, the award check will be made payable to your father and his attorney. The attorney should prepare a written breakdown on where he proposes to pay out the award funds. Your father can contact the State Bar of California as they have procedures to handle disputes between attorneys and clients on fee disputes.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/18/2012
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