(WSVN) - She was in an accident and hired an attorney who worked out a $26,000 settlement, but the attorney then died, and she couldn’t get the money she was expecting … or can she? It’s why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Terrie is a single mom with three kids, a teenage daughter and the adorable 1-year-old twins.

Terrie Chambers: “When I see my twins identical ,and I be like, yes, double blessing. Double trouble but double blessing, yes.”

Raising three children by herself and working a full-time job is a handful, but Terrie handles it.

Terrie Chambers: “By the grace of God. That’s all I can say to the grace of God.”

What she hasn’t been able to take care of goes back to 2019, when a driver rear-ended her at a stop light.

Terrie Chambers: “She wasn’t paying attention, and she hit me, so when she hit me, I hit the car in front of me, yes.”

Terrie’s car was damaged, and she wasn’t in great shape either.

Terrie Chambers: “I was hurt, and so bad that I couldn’t move. Like, they had to call the ambulance to come get me out of the car because I was in so much pain, excruciating pain.”

Today, Terrie is better, but after being hit with medical bills, she hired an attorney who reached a settlement of $26,000.

Terrie Chambers: “I thought once I signed their paper I will get my money.”

She thought that she would get the $26,000 back in March, but weeks went by.

She called the lawyer over and over.

Finally, in June, his wife called Terrie.

Terrie Chambers: “And when she called me, she let me know that my lawyer has passed, and then I was like, OK, ‘Well, I’m sorry for your loss.'”

Terrie’s attorney had died in June.

A few days later, when Terrie tried to find out what happened to her $26,000, she got nowhere.

Terrie Chambers: “I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. I just need my money.”

Terrie doesn’t need the money for a vacation or fancy clothes. It’s for her house.

Terrie Chambers: “Yes, this is what I need the money for. I need the $26,000 to fix my roof, and it leaks real, real bad, and then my AC unit is hot in here.”

Right now, she can’t afford to replace the leaky roof and bad air conditioner because she can’t get the settlement checks from the crash.

Terrie Chambers: “I just want you to please give me my money, so I can fix my roof, fix my AC, and, you know, me and my kids will be happy. Happy.”

Well, Howard, how would you handle this unusual legal problem?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “If the deceased lawyer handled everything properly, Terrie’s money is in his trust account. The Florida Bar will then designate what’s called an inventory attorney to notify clients, return files and any money that is owed. If the attorney didn’t put the money in his trust account, notify the Florida Bar again and they have a fund to compensate the clients like Terrie.”

As I checked, I found out the late lawyer had handled everything properly, but it still took time.

The inventory attorney handed it to a second attorney who asked a third law firm that specializes in probate to sort out.

Turned out, the medical bills and attorney fees and another bill were more than the $26,000 Terrie was getting.

But the law firms staff negotiated the $26,000 in bills down to $13,000, and Terrie got the rest.

Terrie Chambers: “I finally got it. Almost like $13,000. Something like that.”

It took awhile to get that money, but she won’t have that $13,000 for long.

Terrie Chambers: “My roof and my AC, so that’s where most of my money will be going.”

Now, Terrie is looking for a good roofer.

And this is why the Florida Bar requires attorneys to keep their clients’ money in a trust account: in case something happens to the attorney, the client’s money is still there.

The rules worked for Terrie.

Got no trust in solving a problem? Don’t settle for failure. Contact us to see if we can patch things up for you.

With this Help me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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