After an accident, there are quite a few things you deal with; pain and discomfort take center stage, while medical bills or ongoing health issues alongside can be overwhelming. One critical aspect that is often forgotten is the finality of injury lawsuits once a settlement is reached and signed. Can the injury lawsuit be reopened after the deal is sealed?
Why Can You Not Reopen An Injury Lawsuit After Settlement?
Once that contract is signed, your lawsuit is closed. If you have already put pen to paper, there is no going back. Typically, the agreement includes clauses where you waive your right to take any further legal actions related to the incident. Once you sign it, the faulty party is off the hook for any future costs.
Why Reopening a Lawsuit Is A Challenge?
The settlement agreement is a legally enforceable contract, and courts uphold it. This means that any additional medical complications that may arise, any newly discovered injuries, or therapy needs post-settlement will not be entertained. Even if you forgot to include a medical bill in your initial claim, you are on your own.
Beware of Quick Settlement Offers
Insurance companies often move fast to get the settlement done on claims, knowing that once you have signed, it is a done deal. Adjusters will contact you at the start of this process before you have fully recovered or received all necessary medical treatment. Accepting a quick, lowball offer could leave you undercompensated.
What Is The Optimal Timing for Settlement?
Before you even think about settling, reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI means your injuries have improved as much as possible with medical treatment. Settling before it risks overlooking future expenses for ongoing medical treatment, home health care, or necessary medical equipment.
When Can You Get More Compensation?
The only situation when renegotiation is a possibility is when you have not signed the contract of release. This document states that the negligent party no longer holds responsibility for any damages caused by the accident and releases them from any further protruding liability.
This means that no matter the stage you are in the process of the lawsuit, as long as you do not sign the binding release or agree to sign one in a formal mediation, you can renegotiate your settlement and ask for more compensation.
Avoid Accepting Offers Hastily
There is no need to accept offers from the insurance company; however, once you indicate that you will accept one, it is legally difficult to renegotiate further. Rejecting a compensatory offer or countering with another one on your terms signals that you are trying to negotiate further.
Ensure a Fair Settlement
Your main goal is a fair settlement that covers all your damages. To avoid being lowballed:
- Make sure you provide detailed information about economic and non-economic damages.
- Document all proofs and reasonable valuations for every element for which you seek compensation.
- If unsure, consult an experienced personal injury lawyer who can guide you.
Not Satisfied with Settlement? Communicate
If you are not content with the settlement amount being offered to you, communicate this to your lawyer before signing anything. Make sure to discuss all the details with your attorney to ensure no surprises later. Most injury lawyers are motivated to secure maximum compensation for you.
Settling injury lawsuits requires a careful understanding of the legalities. Remember, once that release of liability is signed, your options become limited. Take your time, and don’t hesitate to consult with a skilled personal injury lawyer who can help you secure a fair settlement. You can get in touch with our attorneys from Edwards Sutarwalla Samani LLP to help you in this regard. Call us at (713) 565-1353 to get started.