What to Do if Your Attorney Steals Your Settlement
When you hire an attorney to represent you, you place a great deal of trust in their ability to handle your case ethically and in your best interest. However, there are unfortunate instances where attorneys may betray that trust and steal their client’s settlement funds. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is essential to take immediate action to rectify the situation and hold the attorney accountable. Here’s what you should do if your attorney steals your settlement:
1. Gather evidence: Collect all relevant documents, including your settlement agreement, correspondences with your attorney, and any other evidence that proves your attorney’s theft.
2. Report to the authorities: File a complaint with your local bar association or disciplinary board. They will investigate your attorney’s conduct and take necessary disciplinary actions.
3. Hire a new attorney: Seek legal advice from a new attorney who specializes in legal malpractice or professional misconduct. They will guide you through the process of recovering your stolen settlement.
4. Contact the insurance company: If your settlement was paid by an insurance company, inform them about the theft. They may have procedures in place to handle such situations and can help safeguard your funds.
5. File a lawsuit: If necessary, file a lawsuit against your former attorney to recover your stolen settlement. Your new attorney will assist you in compiling evidence and building a strong case.
6. Notify the court: If your settlement was part of an ongoing court case, inform the court about the theft. They may take action against the attorney and help you in recovering your funds.
7. Contact your state’s clients’ security fund: Many states have a fund that compensates clients who have suffered financial losses due to attorney misconduct. Inquire about the eligibility criteria and processes for recovering your stolen settlement.
8. Inform your other creditors: If you were using the settlement funds to pay off debts, notify your creditors about the theft. They may provide temporary relief or work out an alternative payment plan until the situation is resolved.
9. Seek emotional support: Dealing with the betrayal of an attorney can be emotionally distressing. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups to help you navigate through this challenging time.
1. How common is attorney theft of settlements?
Attorney theft of settlements is relatively rare but can have devastating consequences for the victim.
2. Can I sue my attorney for stealing my settlement?
Yes, you can file a lawsuit against your attorney to recover your stolen settlement.
3. What happens to the attorney if found guilty of stealing settlement funds?
If found guilty, the attorney may face disciplinary actions such as suspension, disbarment, or criminal charges.
4. Will my new attorney take my case on a contingency fee basis?
It depends on the attorney and the specifics of your case. Discuss the fee structure with your new attorney.
5. Can I recover the full amount of my stolen settlement?
Recovering the full amount depends on various factors. Your new attorney will assess the situation and advise you accordingly.
6. How long does it take to resolve a case of attorney theft?
The timeline varies from case to case, depending on the complexity and cooperation of the parties involved.
7. Can I still file a complaint if my attorney has passed away?
Yes, you can still file a complaint with your local bar association or disciplinary board, even if your attorney has passed away.
8. Will I be compensated if my attorney is unable to repay the stolen settlement?
If your attorney is unable to repay, you may be eligible for compensation from your state’s clients’ security fund.
9. Can I trust attorneys in the future after such an incident?
While such incidents can shake your trust, it is important to remember that the majority of attorneys are ethical professionals. Conduct thorough research and due diligence before hiring a new attorney.
In conclusion, discovering that your attorney has stolen your settlement is a distressing situation. By following the steps outlined above, seeking legal assistance, and reporting the theft, you can take the necessary actions to recover your funds and hold the attorney accountable for their actions.