Maybe you just signed the paperwork on your settlement and you’re starting to get that sinking feeling, or perhaps you signed it weeks ago and just got hit with a massive medical bill that exceeds your settlement money. No matter what has made you reconsider your settlement, you are now wondering if your personal injury claim can be reopened after a settlement. We will explore your options here.
In Most Cases, the Answer is No
We’ll start with the bad news first: in the majority of situations, a personal injury claim cannot be reopened after you have accepted a settlement. The settlement process is pretty ironclad, and it’s meant to benefit both parties. You get guaranteed money for your injuries, and the other party gets protection from future lawsuits. This means that you can’t revisit the case when your injuries turn out to be more severe than you think or you realize you could have gotten more if you’d turned to an attorney for assistance.
However, as is the case with most legal matters, there are exceptions. In certain circumstances, you may be able to revisit a settlement.
This is more of a technicality than an actual reopening of the claim. If a clerical error has left you with less money than you anticipated, you can ask for the error to be fixed and get what you are owed. For example, if the parties agreed to a $10,000 settlement but they misplaced the decimal in the paperwork and you received $1,000, you can obviously have that error fixed and get the $10,000 that was agreed upon.
In many personal injury cases, there are multiple liable parties. If you were involved in a car crash, you may have already settled with the liable driver’s insurance company. However, if the crash was also caused by poor road conditions or inadequate signage, you may have a claim against another party. This does not mean you get to revisit your claim against the first party. That claim is done and over with. You may still be able to get additional compensation by opening up negotiations with other parties that are liable for your injuries.
Why Your Choice of Lawyer is Crucial
The fact that it is nearly impossible to reopen a personal injury claim after it has been settled demonstrates why you absolutely need an experienced and competent personal injury lawyer before you agree to a settlement. Many people who try to negotiate for themselves realize afterward that they gave up more than they should have. At that point, though, it’s too late.
One of the main reasons people choose to handle personal injury cases on their own is fear of the cost of hiring a lawyer. This is generally not an issue in personal injury cases since most attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. You pay nothing upfront, and any lawyers’ fees you pay come directly from your settlement money. If you do not get anything, neither do they. You risk nothing by discussing your claim with an attorney before deciding what to do.
When you have a lawyer on your side, negotiations tend to go much more smoothly. Insurance companies have spent a lot of time and money figuring out exactly how they can minimize their claim payouts and lower settlement amounts. They will use whatever tricks they legally can to ensure that they don’t pay you a cent more than they must. You could watch them turn your own words against you, deny the validity of your evidence, dig through your social media for proof that you’re lying, or even try to blame the accident on you. When you bring an attorney to the negotiating table, they know that most of those tricks simply do not work the same way. They are much more likely to negotiate in good faith.
Call Our Team for Help with Your Case
Have you been hurt because of someone else’s negligence? Whether you’ve been injured in a car accident, bitten by a dog, harmed by a doctor’s malpractice, or suffered injuries in a fall, you may be entitled to compensation. To explore your legal options now, call Reeves & Mestayer at 228-300-2754 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.