Unfortunately, some personal injury lawyers cannot be trusted. Too many lawyers get in trouble for “borrowing” or stealing client settlement money from their escrow accounts.
How Do I Know if I Can Trust a Personal Injury Lawyer?
When choosing a New York personal injury lawyer to represent you for your injury from an accident, how do you know whether you can trust your lawyer?
It’s difficult to find out, and you probably would feel uncomfortable asking. Even if you did have the courage to ask, what lawyer would admit to having borrowed money from their attorney’s escrow account?
There are only two ways you can discover potential problems.
One way which is not very effective is to search the attorney’s name on the New York Attorney Registration Search page which will reveal if the attorney ever had any disciplinary action. A search of Avvo.com will also reveal that information. However, by the time that information is listed, the attorney is probably no longer working.
Another way is to look at the attorney’s FICO credit score. A poor credit score indicates an inability to pay bills on time. A lawyer with a poor credit score is more susceptible to “borrowing” or stealing money from the attorney escrow account.
But again, would you have the courage to ask for proof of a personal injury attorney’s credit score? And if you did, it’s doubtful that an attorney would disclose it. There is no way you can check an attorney’s credit rating without permission.
That’s why I’m disclosing my credit score here which shows a FICO credit score of 850 out of a possible 850. My credit score typically ranges from 835-850 depending upon factors such as opening a new account which usually temporarily lowers a score.
If you already have a personal injury lawyer representing you for your accident and you’re wondering why you haven’t received your settlement check yet, read: How long does it take to get my settlement check after settling my accident case?
Before deciding on which personal injury lawyer to use for your accident case, read the Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury or Accident Lawyer.
Both attorneys Phil Franckel and Rob Plevy are members of Ethical Lawyers of America
What Happens to a Lawyer When the Lawyer Takes Money From an Escrow Account
Lawyers are not allowed to borrow money from escrow accounts, even if the money is immediately replaced.
Some lawyers eventually get arrested when they steal client money from their attorney escrow account. Other lawyers have only been suspended or disbarred when they “borrowed” client money from their attorney’s escrow account.
I personally know a personal injury lawyer who was arrested for taking $2.5 million from his escrow account. He was disbarred and served 2.5 years in prison. I also know another lawyer who took $5 million from his escrow account and was disbarred.
A quick search on Google for “lawyer arrested escrow” or “lawyer disbarred escrow” and other similar searches will discover quite a few lawyers who have taken client money from escrow accounts. The Queens DA says these two Long Island lawyers stole over $7 million from clients.
In another case, the Queens District Attorney announced that a former Queens personal injury lawyer was sentenced to prison for bilking more than 50 clients out of nearly $2 million in personal injury settlement money.
What Happens if My Lawyer Took My Money From an Escrow Account
The Lawyers’ Fund For Client Protection Of the State of New York provides financial protection for clients whose money was stolen by their lawyer.
You may be reimbursed for the loss of your money caused by the dishonest conduct of your lawyer, up to a maximum of $400,000 for each client loss.
What Does My Attorney Need to Do With My Money?
See a plain-English guide to current disciplinary and court rules, statutes, and bar association ethics opinions relating to attorney trust accounts, and accounting standards for law offices.
Will My Lawyer Get Paid By the Defense or Insurance Company to Settle My Case?
No. I can’t believe that any personal injury lawyer would ever or even ever that that in the past.
Many years ago, personal injury lawyers were known to pay insurance claim reps to pay more money to settle, but not less. Today, it’s just too easy to get caught.
Some personal injury lawyers work for both plaintiffs (people injured in accidents) and insurance defense. We have never done insurance defense and never will. We will never, ever represent an insurance company!
See the fees and services provided by New York Serious Injury Attorneys at HURT911®
How to Compare Personal Injury Lawyers in New York
12 questions to ask before hiring a personal injury lawyer
Phil Franckel is well-known in New York and has been a personal injury lawyer since 1989. He is a Founding Partner of 1-800-HURT-911, LLP®, the Personal Injury Dream Team™, and a former Member Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. He has an Avvo Top 10 Rating, Avvo Client’s Choice Award with all 5-star reviews, Avvo Top Contributor Award, Multi-Million Dollar Trial Lawyers Award, and others. See Mr. Franckel’s bio for areas of expertise.
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Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Rob began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.
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