There is a storm brewing in Virginia over a proposed new law that would require insurance companies to notify Virginia car accident victims who are represented by a lawyer when the insurance company mails a settlement check to the lawyer. This is known as "the Virginia payee notification statute."

Some Virginia trial lawyers are opposed to this law for the reason that "it unfairly singles out plaintiff's lawyers." 

At the present time, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association is on record as being against this rule, however debate continues within its ranks.

Those who support such a law argue that it would protect consumers against lawyers like Stephen Conrad, a man who stole millions.  Here's what Conrad did: he would settle cases without the knowledge of his clients. The insurance company would mail Conrad a settlement check, made payable to both the client and Conrad. Conrad would forge the clients name and cash the check. He would tell the client that the case was "still going on." Conrad stole millions.

Conrad's crime would have been virtually impossible to accomplish if Virginia had adopted payee notification the last time it was proposed.

There is not a rational consumer out there who thinks that payee notification is a bad idea.

Here's what one consumer wrote about payee notification at the blog:

Conrad represented us, too. He stole $50K from us. Conrad did the same thing to everbody-no return phone calls, no paperwork, didn’t tell us he settled our case (for 2 yrs.),forged my husband’s name on both check and the release & even forged the witness names. Went to his sentencing on 11/14/2008. The bum wasn’t even remorseful. In court he said he was sorry for the shame and embarrassment he caused his wife and kids. A very selfish, greedy man. Hope the bum gets his up the “bum.” Disgusted, too, with the VA State Bar’s Victim’s Protection. What a joke! All the victim’s will get a BIG $.06 on the dollar Conrad stole. The Bar won’t pass legislation that will allow ins. companies to notify clients that their case is going to settle either. What does that tell everybody! There must be quite a few more crooks in the legal system. Seems they make laws to protect themselves. We’ll think twice before hiring a lawyer again.

The lawyers who oppose it are placing their own egos in front of a common sense rule. It seems that their argument is that "their feelings are hurt" that they (plaintiff's lawyers) are being "singled out" as something that we need a lawyer to protect the public from.

Courts are not giving Conrad's ex-clients and breaks and his crimes will likely break the bank of Virginia's "Client Protection Fund." (Doesn't the mere existence of the Client Protection Fund say "bad things" about lawyers?)

It's time for this debate to end.

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized Virginia injury, medical malpractice, and long-term disability attorney