The process of settling a car accident claim can raise disagreements between you (the plaintiff) and your attorney. When the defendant’s attorney makes an offer to settle the matter, the major question becomes whether to accept the settlement offer or take the case to trial. Within this debate there is another question: What to do if you disagree with your lawyer? This issue is best dealt with when initially interviewing attorneys to represent you.
As a matter of law and ethics, your attorney is obligated to represent you to the best of his or her ability. The consequences of a lawyer’s failing to provide adequate representation for a client are severe. More importantly, an attorney cannot force you to make any decisions that you disagree with — the ultimate decision on how to proceed rests with the client. Your lawyer is there to provide the best opinions and strategies to represent you, the client.
Settling Versus Going To Trial
When the defendant’s attorney presents an settlement offer, the initial question surrounds the settlement amount. Is the settlement appropriate to the circumstances surrounding your claim? An experienced attorney will evaluate the offer in light of propriety, previous car accident settlements and your unique situation. He or she is a legal expert and can best advise you how to proceed.
If you have reservations about your lawyer’s advice to accept a settlement, ask him or her why the matter is better off being settled. Taking a claim to court offers no guarantees of a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor. Trials are also expensive and time consuming. These considerations need to be balanced against the settlement offered.
On the other hand, your attorney’s advice could be that the settlement offered is unacceptable and that taking the case to trial is the best way to proceed. Here is another potential source of disagreement, especially when the immediate solution of a settlement is at hand. Again, your attorney’s case and courtroom experience puts him or her in a more informed position to offer sound advice.
Seek a Second Opinion
A client’s first instinct may be to fire their attorney and in some cases, that is the best action to take. However, the best first action to take is to talk frankly with your current lawyer about his or her reasoning to accept or decline a settlement and the rationale behind taking the claim to court.
If there is still disagreement on what to do, it is perfectly okay to get a second opinion from another lawyer. While not required, it is always best to be up front with your lawyer about the intention to get a second opinion. A second opinion should also put your mind at ease as to the best way to proceed with your claim.