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Renters insurance settlement, attorney rip off??

Discussion in 'Homeowners, Fire, Casualty' started by Guest, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. Guest

    Guest Law Topic Starter Guest

    We had a total loss house fire in November. The renter's insurance company kept dragging things out, made us do a examination under oath, etc. So we hired an attorney that we found from Alabama State Bar Referral line. Once we met with him, he was pretty confident that he could help us with the claim. My hesitation was the 40% fee, which is 12,000$ on a $30,000 policy. Yes I signed the contract, but after everything I had been through with the company I was concerned that this would be long and drawed out and possibly turn into a law suit.
    Well, here we are three weeks later and the insurance company has issued a check for the $30,000 minus $2,500 advance and the lawyer has emailed me a document basically the settlement agreement that gives him $11,000. And he wants me to sign and return NOW.
    Ok, I knew that this was a possibility, but $11,000 for just a few communications back and forth with my insurance company? I feel like I got ripped off!! We lost everything, and now we are losing $11,000 to a lawyer who sent a few emails on our behalf?! I have two small children, $11,000 is a lot of money.
    Do I have any options? Can I fire him? What can I do, if anything?
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You can certainly terminate the services of your attorney.
    What he or she might do next is sue you.
    During such a lawsuit, your settlement would likely be tied up for months.
    The problem for you is that you knew going in his fee was 40% of your settlement, if you ever obtained a settlement.
    Its statistically proven that having an attorney reduces insurance company delays, and results in a settlement at least twice that received by people without an attorney representing them.

    As you deliberate your choices, it wouldn't hurt to visit a couple locla attorneys and see what they advise.
    If you decide to do that, take along your written retainer.

    Based upon your revelations, I see no way out of this except to pay what you agreed to do when you engaged the attorney.
    The attorney who, by the way, did what you couldn't with a couple emails and phone calls.
     
  3. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    I agree - this is all about risk reward. What if you had gone to court instead of settling? The attorney would have had to invested time in order to obtain a cash award. At that point, the attorney's costs could have even exceeded $11,000 and you would have gotten the better of the deal. Did the attorney know he could probably settle the case? Perhaps. But that's not the point. You have the ability to make a deal or walk away at the time when no one knew for sure what it would take to resolve the matter. The money is the return on risk taken.
     
  4. txls

    txls Well-Known Member

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    You agreed to pay and you got what you wanted. No long drawn out battle in court.
     
  5. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    Agree, you did sign a contract with the attorney & agreed to pay him for his services. He deserves his money (whatever he charges). Sorry.
     
  6. Chrissywuzhere

    Chrissywuzhere New Member

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    Hey its me, guest, that wrote the original question.
    I know you guys are right. We've just had a lot of hard hits since the fire and with a new baby and a traumatized five year old, it seems like they just keep on coming.
    To the pp that said that those few emails were something I couldn't do, you're absolutely right. Im going to go ahead and sign the papers and send to them tomorrow.
    One more quick question. Is there any way to make the insurance company pay some of the lawyers fees? It just seems so wrong to me that as policyholders, we are just stuck. If I would have known about this when I bought the policy, I would have gotten double the coverage to cover the fees.

    Thank you so much for your replies. I honestly appreciate your taking the time to help me understand. This has been a nightmare for my family. We lost everything, and continue to lose.
     
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    What the insurance company will cover is written in that tiny print for you to read.
    If it isn't in black and white, no, the insurance company won't pay.
    Sorry, but let's hope things are going to get better for your family real soon.
     
  8. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    Agree with army judge. If it's not in the ins. policy, the ins. company is not going to pay. Sorry.
     
  9. disagreeable

    disagreeable Well-Known Member

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    It is very likely the phone call from that attorney is why they paid so quickly.
     
  10. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Agreed. Instead of only looking at the insurance policy, what is in the retainer agreement? Can you reject a settlement offer? Does it specifically state an offer of $XX including or excluding attorneys' fees? I haven't heard anything yet that if the insurance company agrees to pay $30,000 that you can't also demand from them the damages caused by your having to use an attorney when they should have paid it off entirely from the beginning without needing to retain legal counsel.
     

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