Asked in Civil Litigation and Legal Malpractice for Florida

Q: How long can a fired attorney in FL withhold a settlement?

If multiple insurance companies are being sued and 1 settles, and the settlement check put in escrow by attorney. Client then fires attorney and hires new attorney who takes over case. Can the fired attorney continue to withhold the settlement and for how long... or does fired attorney have to pay medical thus far and retain contingency fee and legal admin fees and disburse the remaining balance to the client's new attorney or client? It's been several months and fired attorney will not release settlement. No new medical has gone to fired attorney. Client doesn't want to pester new attorney as he doesn't make money off 1st settlement. Hard to get a straight answer.

1 Lawyer Answer
Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: There may be circumstances in which the attorney can hold the settlement funds in his/her trust account, pending global settlement of the case, but if he/she does, he/she must fully communicate with you the reasons for doing so, and might also need to file a motion in court to determine what to do with the funds. I would be shocked if an attorney in this situation is remaining totally silent and not returning your calls or emails asking the reason for the hold, as that would be a violation of Bar ethics rules, but if he/she is doing that, you SHOULD request your new attorney to contact him/her and straighten it out.

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