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Can your lawyer settle your case without your permission?

If you have a legal matter that involves thousands of dollars, you expect your attorney to do everything legally possible to secure a positive outcome. Sometimes, that means going to court and asking a judge or jury to weigh in on the matter. Other times, lawyers work with opposing parties to negotiate an acceptable settlement.

Before entering settlement negotiations, your attorney should gauge your willingness to settle your case. While your attorney may not tell you about every aspect of settlement talks, he or she must have your permission to accept a settlement agreement.

Settlement talks can be complex

In legal matters that involve more than $100,000 settlement negotiations are rarely simple. After all, not only must the plaintiff and the defendant come up with an acceptable settlement amount, but both are likely to want some concessions. These may include a release of liability, a confidentiality clause or other provisions.

There is no going back

If a settlement is possible, it may take months or longer to reach one. Then, the other side may provide a strict deadline for accepting the agreement. Before agreeing to the settlement, you must understand exactly what its terms say. Put simply, with few exceptions, it is not possible to change your mind after you accept.

Your attorney must defer to you

Your attorney may believe your settlement offer is an excellent one. He or she may also have some interest in settling your case and closing your file. Nevertheless, your attorney must defer to you. If you do not give your lawyer permission to accept the deal, he or she probably has no authority to do so.

Ultimately, if your attorney agrees to settle your case against your wishes, you may have a compensable claim for legal malpractice.