How is a settlement split between 2 plaintiffs?

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How is a settlement split between 2 plaintiffs?

A friend and I were involved in an auto accident and are sharing 1 lawyer. He has already expressed to me favorability for one case to another stating I will not get as much for my claim because he believes her case is substantially larger due to injuries but I do not feel this way. I see a conflict of interest arising I was under the impression it was 50/50. I want my claim to be valued for me only and not who gets more between the 2. Who decides who gets what once we reach a settlement? I thought we value our cases separately and get what our value deserve individually I’m not sure I want one lawyer if I feel one case may be favored or the other and lose out on what we each rightfully deserve?

Asked on February 4, 2017 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Get your own attorney--now. The lawyer you've been working with has already as good as said that he won't fight as hard for you as for his other client and that he feels she deserves more of any settlement or award; he has essentially admitted he is not putting your interests first. And he has no reason to, after all: his compensation is based either on the total amount collected (if its contingency-based, where he gets a percentage of the amount recovered) or the total hours billed (if he is billing based on time); he has no incentive to work for you specifically.
Furthemore, you and your friend are yourselves in conflict. While you each should receive compensation equivalent to your own injuries, costs, losses, etc., what if there is not enough money to go around? To take a simple example: say the other driver is insolvent, so the only money available is from his insurnance. Say that he only has $25,000 in insurance, but that you had $15,000 of medical costs, lost wages, etc. and your friend had $18,000. There is not enough to pay you both your full amount, so you and he will be fighting over the money.
Having a single lawyer in a case like this is therefore a very bad idea.


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