As much as we would love to believe that doctors never harm patients, medical malpractice claims continue to be filed at an alarming rate. Similarly, when we enter into a relationship with a lawyer, we hope that he or she will have our best interests as their focus. Unfortunately, legal malpractice is also a very real concern for clients.
Many people who need legal guidance are afraid that their lawyer will scam them, or will choose to work with the insurance company in order to get a better pay-day. This is a form of fraud and legal malpractice that gives the legal profession a bad name. It also causes a great deal of stress for clients.
Most lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. That means that they do not get paid unless their client gets an award. If the client does get an award, then the process looks something like this:
- The money is deposited into the lawyer’s trust account
- The lawyer deducts his or her expenses, fees, etc.
- Anyone who is owed money (healthcare providers, insurance, etc.) is paid or reimbursed as applicable
- The remainder of the funds are sent to the client
Most lawyers will provide clients with a detailed account of all expenses and what the award funds were used for. Unfortunately, there are some lawyers who will attempt to cheat the client out of monies they are owed. This could happen via the lawyer deducting more funds than are really owed.
Additionally, if the lawyer has a relationship with insurance companies involved in the case, this could lead to a conflict of interest. The lawyer’s actions could benefit the insurance company, or could result in a kickback payment for the lawyer once the insurance company has been paid. Any such actions could constitute legal malpractice or fraud, and are unethical and damaging to the client.