If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence and later received a settlement as compensation for your damages, you may not be able to reopen your case. When your personal injury claim was settled between you and the defendant’s insurance company, you were likely required to sign a release of liability that prevents you from filing future claims related to the same accident and/or injury.
Most insurance companies will not close the deal until this release is signed.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CASE
While each accident is unique in its own set of circumstances and each personal injury case is unique in its own terms of the settlement, you generally cannot reopen or re-litigate your case once a judgment has been entered. This is usually based on the insurance company’s inclusion of the aforementioned liability release.
Once your personal injury case has been litigated, you have very few recourses to move forward. If the settlement you get doesn’t cover the damages you incurred, there simply isn’t much you can do about it. If you have been injured in a car accident, slip and fall accident, or any type of accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it is important to get a settlement right the first time by hiring an experienced California personal injury attorney from the beginning.
The fact is, you usually get one chance with a personal injury case, and the results can impact your future. Recovering from a major injury is often a long and difficult journey that can require considerable resources to fully recover. In other words, getting the compensation you are entitled to be too important to leave to chance. Consult with a California personal injury attorney from Arash Law today.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR RELEASE OF LIABILITY
The release of liability that you sign, once you have settled your case, is a clause or legal document that says it releases the defendant from any future liability related to the specific case. Therefore, as long as the defendant complies with the settlement terms that apply to them (usually this involves paying the settlement amount), they cannot be sued in the future for additional damages that may develop. If, for example, you discover that the accident caused you to suffer more injuries than you originally thought, the release of liability will prevent you from seeking additional compensation for those injuries.
Insurance companies take these communications very seriously. In fact, even if a judge has signed your settlement agreement, the insurance company may not release your payment until you have agreed to release them from liability. Often this release is included as a clause in the actual agreement. Sometimes even verbally agreeing to release is enough to waive your right to reopen a personal injury case.
IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY MAKES A SETTLEMENT OFFER
If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, you may feel overwhelmed and may not feel like going the extra mile to consult with a personal injury attorney. While this attitude is understandable, it is not in your best interest. The fact is that insurance companies are in the business of making massive profits, and the way they manage to do that is by minimizing payouts. As you go about the important work of getting your health back on track, let your experienced California personal injury attorney at Arash Law aggressively advocate for the compensation to which you are entitled.
Beware of the insurance company that makes a quick settlement offer before you’ve had a chance to understand exactly how extensive your injuries are. While being offered a settlement amount may seem like an easy way to end an unfortunate chapter in your life, it is important to remember that you will be giving up your right to seek additional damages if your injuries turn out to be more serious than they first appear.
The fact is that certain types of injuries can become much more serious over time, and can even become chronic. If an insurance company offers you a settlement offer, do yourself a favor and consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before signing.
FOR EVERY RULE, THERE’S AN EXCEPTION
You’ve heard the saying that to every rule there is an exception, and this is never more true than when the law is involved. There are a few circumstances that may allow you to seek additional damages in your personal injury claim, even if you have already negotiated a settlement:
- If you have agreed to the terms of the settlement agreement but have not yet signed it
- If you already signed the settlement agreement, but it did not contain a release of liability, and you have not yet signed a release
If any of these apply to your situation, an experienced California personal injury attorney can help.
WHEN THERE IS ADDITIONAL LIABILITY
You were injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, and you signed and received a settlement that included a release of liability. It may seem like that’s the end of that, but there is another possibility. Often more than one person or entity is responsible for causing an accident, and if your personal injury case involves more than one responsible party, you may have a way forward.
If, for example, you were injured in a car accident caused by another driver who has already settled with you, there may be other considerations. If you or the other driver’s car has a manufacturing defect that contributed to the accident, you may be able to claim damages through the car manufacturer. Also, if a poorly maintained road played a role, you may be able to hold the county legally responsible. Again, each personal injury case has its own unique set of circumstances that will ultimately guide the course of action, so speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
NOT SO FAST: ASSESSING DAMAGE AFTER AN ACCIDENT
You have been injured in an accident and your medical bills are piling up. He can’t work and he’s likely to feel the strain and something else. Insurance companies understand his dilemma and don’t hesitate to use it against him. An early settlement offer is likely a strategic attempt to minimize your compensation.
You, on the other hand, may view this settlement offer as a lifeline that can help you get out of financial trouble. However, doing so is extremely short-sighted on his part. The fact is that the damages you sustain in an accident can have significant long-term financial, emotional, and physical consequences. Don’t be too quick to settle for less than your fair share.
EXPERIENCE IS KEY: CONSULT A CALIFORNIA PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
You’re dealing with a personal injury claim, and chances are you’ve never had to deal with anything remotely like this before. However, she is not alone. An experienced personal injury attorney will help make sure he has considered
- Carefully look at your damages from all angles before proceeding to a settlement. These damages can come in a wide variety of forms: Medical expenses, including emergency care; surgeries and aftercare; visits to the doctor, specialist, and therapist; prescription drugs; adaptive physical devices; and more
- Hours and wages lost at work
- reduced potential
- emotional pain and suffering
Additionally, it can take a considerable amount of time to fully assess the extent of the damage you have sustained. Don’t settle for the insurance company before you have a better understanding of what you need to get on the road to full recovery.
THE CLOCK IS TICKING: STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
While it may take time to fully understand the extent of your damages, it’s also important to recognize that time is important. The fact is that there is a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in California. This means that you generally have two years from the time of the accident that caused the injury to file your case. Although two years may seem like more than enough time, many victims lose track of time.
If you have been seriously injured, it is natural that you focus all your attention on regaining your health and strength; this takes time. Also, the longer you take to file your personal injury case, the more difficult it becomes to gather evidence to support that case. Your rights and the compensation you are entitled to are important; consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.