Q: How can a client protect himself from this type of situation occurring?
A lawyer contacts his client (the plaintiff) over the phone regarding a personal injury claim telling him he is in the process of negotiating a settlement for his case and can get him $10,000. He asks the client if he would accept this amount and the client says “yes” to the verbal offer. The lawyer then negotiates a $20,000 settlement and instructs the defense attorney to issue the $20,000 in two separate checks - one for $10,000 made out to the plaintiff’s lawyer’s law firm (which the plaintiff has no knowledge of) and the 2nd check for $10,000 made out to the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s lawyer then pockets the $10,000 plus the 30% contingency fee for a total of $13,000. Meanwhile the plaintiff is left with $7000 and doesn't know that his attorney negotiated a higher settlement than he was told.
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