Ethical Implications, Liens & Recoverable Costs

March 15, 2013 | Permalink

Earlier this year, Mary Pat Benz co-authored an article with Bridget A. Mitchell that was published in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

The article discusses the ethical implications when a personal-injury case is settled, but the defense counsel requests that the plaintiff counsel agree to guarantee the plaintiff’s payment of liens or recoverable costs:

“The interest of the defendant and any insurers in obtaining such guarantees are obvious. But can the plaintiff’s counsel accommodate the defense request, even when a refusal to provide the guarantee may prevent a favorable settlement for an injured client?”

Mary Pat and Bridget then summarized how various state bar associations addressed the issue, including the ISBA.

“In general, [state bar associations’] conclusion is that the plaintiff’s counsel must satisfy valid liens from settlement proceeds, but he may not personally guarantee a client’s payments. Some bar associations have said that defense counsel may not ethically make such a request of the plaintiff’s counsel.”

“In essence, the weight of state bar authority supports the conclusion that it is unethical to ask an attorney to pay medical expenses when a client fails to do so. An attorney who signed such an indemnify agreement could be violating the Rules of Professional Conduct by conferring financial benefit on his client. In addition, the agreement could create a conflict of interest between the lawyer, his client and possibly third parties.”

To read the whole article, “ISBA reviews liens and recoverable costs in personal-injury cases,” or for other articles by Mary Pat, please see Articles & Presentations.