What steps can I take to secure settlement funds from my lawyer who is always unavailable?

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What steps can I take to secure settlement funds from my lawyer who is always unavailable?

A month ago the insurance carrier sent me a letter stating that $ X was wired to my lawyer as agreed on. However up to now I have not been able to collect my money. I have have made numerous phone call and personal visits to his office but he is never available or present.

Asked on May 11, 2011 under Business Law, New Jersey

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your attorney is playing with fire here.  He could lose his license to practice law if he has done anything with your funds.  I am surprised that the insurance company wired anything.  Generally they issue a check in both yours and the attorney's name and you would have to sign it to have it deposited. But anyway, here is what you do. Send your attorney a letter by certified mail, return receipt requested and copy the insurance company on the letter.  Tell him that you are giving him 10 days to give you an accounting of the distribution of the funds, including the disbursements, etc., on the file and to issue you a check.  That if he fails to do so you will be filing a complaint with the greivance committee and hiring an attorney to sue him for the funds.  10 to 1 you get a response.  Good luck.

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to immediately contact your state's attorney general and the state bar in New Jersey. Many states have funds available to give consumers when the lawyers have failed to pay clients or taken the money and run. A phone call, email or letter or two from one of these two agencies should be sufficient. Further, email him and send him a fax indicating (and a voice mail while you are at it) that if he does not release the funds to you immediately you will not only have the insurance company reverse the wire and send you the money but you will report theft to the police department and U.S. Attorney and you plan on reporting him to the State Bar. See how quickly he gives you your money.


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