My question involves an injury case that occurred in the state of: CA
Concise part -
My wife and I are VERY concerned that the lawfirm we hired to handle my wife's case may be having an under the table deal with the liable party's insurance to minimize the amount that liable party has to provide. Something is NOT right and I want to see the documents and investigate before we sign any closure/settlement papers.
So my question is, What documents do I have a legal right to demand from my attorney, and am I allowed to contact the liable insurance company.
I want to see the demand letter my attorney sent out,
I want the official offer reply from the insurance
I want correspondence records between our attorney and my wife's doctor.
Can I call the liable party's insurance company if we are still in an ongoing case?
Full Breakdown -
Back in November my wife was rear ended in a vehicle accident. She was driving a 2006 Toyota 4Runner SR5. It was totaled in the accident. The driver that hit my wife was found fully responsible and was driving under a company vehicle policy. We were fine taking care of expenses ourselves for the most part, keeping records, know the Insurance Company guaranteed all expenses would compensated. Since everything seemed pretty minimal, we didn't expect too much with regard to "pain and suffering". We hoped for 20K after medical bills, but didn't know if that was realistic, or too much. Various sources that we had confidence in said "No less than $60k" due to the circumstance of the accident and type of injury. Doctors were telling my wife " Ya, this is going to effect you for the rest of your life and will get worse as you get older". Implications that she could even experience numbness from her waste down some day and that we have to keep a very close eye on it. In either February or March we hired an attorney. They strongly supported our case, expressing extreme confidence that they could get us a settlement that would cover everything and give us enough on top to have a backup strategy if my wife's back were to need surgery down the line. They emphasized that it's a company policy and there was "plenty to work with". The policy minimums for company policies around here is at least $500k. When my wife completed treatment and we went to the settlement stage June 21st, this is where things got disconcerting. Right off the bat they submit a demand letter without letting us see it first, but whats weirder (to us) is they refused to tell us the dollar amount they asked for, only saying they asked for "policy limits". Policy limits would be about $500k. We thought that must be a mistake or something, but they said "policy limits" three times. We figured there's no harm in aiming high apparently.
When the paralegal representing our attorney call us on Monday Aug 6th to tell us they received a reply offer, they again refused to tell us the amount, only emphasizing "Within ballpark" and that we'll be very happy. We asked that we come in, talk numbers, and if all is good, sign for the settlement. They refuse, stating that they want to try to reduce the liens a bit. I asked if this was because we got a real low offer or something. The paralegal representing our attorney said "No, no, not at all. We try to reduce liens on all our cases. Don't worry, you got a good offer!" I asked him again what the offer was, he came back with "within ballpark of what we asked for". I confirmed the the original demand was for "policy limits". He said yep. I had been a been pushy with him and was not hiding our apprehension. Moments after our call the attorney himself called my at work. We simply said that the offer was for 32k.
They ask for policy limits (around $500k) - "within ballpark" as a reply offer ($250k?) = 32k? How does this math make any sense
I asked my wife to give authorization for me to talk directly to the attorney, as all records, and 90% of communication was going through me anyway. She called them and let the attorneys assistant know that Im authorized and would be following up later in the day. Not even 3hrs later our attorney calls me back and somehow he just happen to get increased to 35k in just a couple of hours, but seemingly never tried to in the 4 days theyve sat on the offer. "But thats it. $35k! That's their last offer!" When I expressed my confusion, that this won't leave us with ANYTHING after medical bills and Attorney fee, our Attorneys response was that my wife didn't "WANT" surgery, so there's nothing they can do. As if to say she should have mauled herself or got a surgeon to do it to get more money. But since she wasn't "willing" to do that, he's acting like we were some uncooperative people that weren't willing to help them. I asked if there was anything we could to to press for better offer, or if maybe a lawsuit would be necessary. When we sat down with our attorney for the first time months back, he was the one bring up a lawsuit (sewing the policy holder) if thing got bad and we didn't get the amount we felt comfortable now. Almost as if to defend the insurance company and policy holder, his verbal town changed and he said that we no longer have a case and that lawyers don't work with "maybes", "could be's", and "possibly's" (referring to our concerns about my wifes back and her future). This is a VERY VERY different tune from the one he was singing 2 months ago when they sent out the demand letter. The doctors have say that shes as good as she can be right now and that there's nothing surgery can do, that there's no point to have surgery and that she doesn't need it. They also emphasized that she is very likely to change though, and her conditions get She already experience issues. She wasn't able to go snowboarding the whole summer. Her back seizes up and she gets into so much pain that she starts throwing up and has to come home from work. This happens almost once a week. Never had even one back ache before the accident. Something is NOT right and I want to see the documents and investigate. It doesn't make sense (to me) for an attorney to exaggerate something like this to us, making statements that everyone else was saying, that we have a slamdunk case with lots to work with policy limits wise, only to get a slap-in-the-face offer and be completely okay and resigned to it, going to far as to be on the defensive fore the other party.