Can a Settled Lawsuit be Reopened?
When you suffer an injury due to the negligence of another person, you are entitled to seek monetary compensation from them through the legal system. Whether your efforts lead to a trial or a negotiated settlement, you could recover monetary compensation for your injuries. It is important to understand, however, that once you recover the compensation you are entitled to you may not come back for additional sums later.
If a lawsuit is dismissed due to an agreed settlement, that typically marks the end of your personal injury claim. In exchange for paying a monetary settlement for your injuries, the responsible party will require a full release of your claims in addition to the dismissal of your lawsuit. With this release, you are giving away your future right to ever bring this cause of action again.
Because of the finality of a personal injury settlement, it is vital that you obtain a fair amount of compensation. The guidance of a personal injury lawyer could make the difference in getting the most out of your claim.
The finality of a settlement
Most of the time, a settlement and dismissal of a personal injury lawsuit marks the end of the claim. Insurance companies for the at-fault party typically require a release of your claim in order to settle it. This is understandable, as it eliminates the risk of paying twice on the same claim.
The finality of a claim is something you should be aware of at the time you are negotiating a settlement. If you willingly agree to a settlement amount that proves to be inadequate over time, you are generally barred from ever seeking additional compensation from the at-fault party.
There are very limited exceptions that would allow you to reopen a personal injury claim after a settlement and dismissal. The primary example would be in the case of fraud. If the at-fault party or their insurance company entered into the settlement in bad faith and fraudulently refused to pay, you could have grounds to file another claim or reopen your lawsuit. This is rare, as most settlements are for lump-sum amounts paid prior to the dismissal of the suit.
Another sort of exception could be filing a second claim against another defendant for the same injury. For example, if there are two parties responsible for your injury and you reach a settlement with only one of them, you could pursue legal action against the second after you have resolved the first claim. Keep in mind, some insurance companies will only settle if you agree to resolve your claim against all potential defendants.
Given how rare it is to reopen an injury claim after you have reached a settlement, it is vital you do not pursue this action alone. Experienced personal injury lawyers could advise you whether these limited exceptions apply to your case.
Steps to take prior to a settlement
Due diligence prior to any settlement agreement is an important part of the claims process. By taking careful steps, you could avoid agreeing to a settlement amount that turns out to be inadequate. The following steps can help you get the most out of your claim.
- Seek immediate medical attention. Any delay in seeking medical treatment could make it difficult for your doctor to effectively diagnose your injuries.
- Follow the advice of your doctor. Not only can ignoring your doctor’s advice make it difficult to recover, but it can also cost you in your efforts to properly evaluate your injury claim.
- Journal about your condition. Make regular notes of your recovery progress and how you are feeling. This can assist your legal counsel in deciding what your claim is worth.
- Speak with an attorney. Identifying the value of your claim is challenging, and you should not undertake it without the assistance of seasoned Los Angeles personal injury lawyers.
How we can help
Maximizing your financial recovery starts with carefully identifying the damages you are entitled to. By carefully evaluating your case on the front end, we can ensure you will not be footing the bill on your own in the future. To learn more about how we can help with your claim, schedule a free consultation with Ellis Injury Law today.