Reopening an Injury Case After a Settlement
You close the door to further compensation once you accept a settlement and sign the relevant forms. However, some cases allow you to reopen your case and file a lawsuit even after accepting a settlement.
The law prevents you from suing for the same injuries after a settlement, but there are exceptions to the rule. Below are circumstances that allow you to sue after a settlement.
The law requires auto insurance carriers to process claims with good faith. For example, the insurance company should
- Disclose the available coverage
- Investigate the accident to the best of their ability
- Represent the applicable laws and regulations honestly
- Settle all valid claims
Consider an insurance company that lies to you that their client's policy has a maximum coverage of $1,000,000 even though the limit is way beyond that. Such a lie might force you to settle for $1,000,000 even if your damages are worth twice as much. In such a case, you can reopen your case if you discover the lie after your settlement.
You can also reopen your case if you can prove that the defendant forced you to sign the settlement agreement. Coercion rarely comes from insurance companies. However, individual or corporate defendants might engage in such unfair tactics.
Say you have a case against an employer, and they threaten you enough to force you to accept a low settlement. You can reopen the case if you can prove the threats.
Some injury cases have multiple defendants. Consider a drunken-driving accident where the car owner, driver, and a bar (that served the defendant alcohol) can all be liable for the damages. In such a case, you can sue the car owner and bar after settling with the driver.
Although exceptions allow lawsuits after settlement, you should do your best to settle your case at its maximum value the first time around. Your efforts will help you avoid costly lawsuits and ensure you get your full compensation as soon as possible. Below are some measures that can help.
Wait for MMI
You might incur new damages related to your accident after your settlement if you settle before reaching your maximum medical improvement (MMI). The MMI is the point at which doctors understand your injury and do not expect a further recovery in the foreseeable future. Wait until you hit MMI you reach MMI before settling your case.
Reevaluate Your Damages
You might be tempted to reopen your injury case if you discover new damages or if your settlement is far lower than what you deserve. Do your analysis, research, and calculations thoroughly before your settlement to prevent such complications.
For example, you can use a spreadsheet to track every single loss, even if it seems insignificant, you have suffered because of the accident. Don't forget about incidental and nonmonetary losses in your calculations.
Research Possible Sources of Compensation
Insurance companies - not individuals or organizations - typically settle accident cases. Thus, your compensation will depend on the insurance's coverage limit. The limit means you might settle for less than you deserve or can get if you don't account for all defendants.
Research your case thoroughly and send your demand letter to all the possible defendants. Err on the side of caution and send your demand letter to every potential defendant you can think of. Including the wrong defendant in your demand letters is not so bad; the worst that can happen is that they will deny liability.
Palmetto Injury Lawyers can help you settle our case the first time and avoid future complications. We can also help you reopen a case if we discover relevant legal grounds. Contact us for a consultation to determine the direction your case should take.