Delaware Reader Thinks His Attorney Didn't Share the Settlement Check

by F. Counts

The insurance company for the person who caused my accident sent my attorney a settlement check for my personal injury claim and he went ahead and cashed it without my signature. I never got any money for my injury. I certainly never signed any settlement release for the insurance company. Can I just go ahead and sue the insurance company myself? Jacob D., Delaware

There is nothing to prevent you from filing a lawsuit against the insurance company. However, the insurance company has at least two very valid defenses:

First: the insurance company was not driving the vehicle that struck you. The lawsuit may be dismissed on that issue alone. A proper lawsuit is filed against the person who was at fault, whether that person had insurance or not. Then the appropriate insurer steps in to provide a defense for that person.

Second: what evidence do you have that the insurance company actually did anything wrong. You write that the settlement check was sent to your attorney. There must have been some contract between you and that attorney which allowed him or her to handle, negotiate and settle the claim on your behalf. The insurance company would have been put on notice that the attorney was hired to represent you, and then merely honored that contract between you and your attorney as it was obligated to do. Your attorney had the authority to settle the case as he did. Everything proceeded as you intended it to until you did not get any settlement money.

Your complaint is really against the attorney that you hired to represent your interests. Make sure that you have made every attempt to contact his office and that this is not just an instance of miscommunication or that he has been out of town or on vacation. If you have truly been wronged by your attorney, contact your local bar association and make a formal complaint. If your attorney has really cheated you out of your settlement money, he could face disciplinary action and possible disbarment.

This article is approved for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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