Am I Still Allowed To File A Lawsuit After Agreeing To A Settlement?
For the most part, you are not allowed to file a lawsuit after agreeing to a settlement for your personal injury claim. This is due to the release of claims that come with these settlement agreements. In exchange for paying monetary compensation for your injuries, the other side will want a written waiver of your right to pursue a claim.
In other words, you only have one chance to get your personal injury settlement right. Once you have completed a settlement, you may not seek additional compensation for the same claim from the same defendant again.
With that in mind, it is crucial to get the compensation you deserve the first time around. You do not have to seek compensation for your injuries alone. You have the right to work with experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyers during every step of your claim.
When filing a lawsuit after a settlement is not allowed
As discussed above, virtually all settlements in personal injury cases come with a release of all claims. The wording of these releases can vary to some degree, but they all include language that prevents you from pursuing the claim further against the party you are settling with. In some releases, the language could even bar you from pursuing an injury claim against anyone regarding this specific injury. Identifying the proposed scope of a settlement agreement is one way your personal injury lawyer could protect your rights.
A settlement agreement is a contract. It is generally written and is executed by both the injury victim and the at-fault driver. When insurance companies are involved, they typically sign the release too. Like any contract, both sides must receive something for it to be enforceable. You receive monetary compensation for your injuries. The at-fault party receives a waiver of all claims against them.
Because of this contractual language, most injury victims give up their right to pursue a lawsuit following a settlement. If they later decide the amount they originally settled for was not enough, they do not have the option to come back for more. Any attempt to file a lawsuit following the execution of the release will likely result in a quick dismissal from the court.
Given what is at stake with a personal injury settlement, it is a mistake to resolve these claims without the guidance of an attorney. Your legal counsel can advise you of the pros and cons of every settlement offer, including the waiver of your right to file a lawsuit.
Exceptions that could allow a lawsuit
There are some limited situations where you could file a lawsuit after agreeing to a settlement. The most obvious example involves a claim against a separate defendant that was not covered by the settlement agreement. Consider the following example. Two negligent drivers both collide with your vehicle. You reach a settlement for half of your damages from one of the drivers and sign a release waiving your rights to sue them. Unless the release also covers the other driver, you still have the right to pursue a case against the at-fault driver you have not settled with.
Another example involves a settlement agreement that involved fraud. If you learn that the other side fraudulently coerced you into a settlement agreement, you might have grounds to set the agreement aside. This outcome is rare, and you should never assume it will be an available option in your case.
Discuss a settlement offer with your attorney
It is imperative that you never enter into a settlement agreement without first speaking with experienced personal injury attorneys. The attorneys of Ellis Injury Law are ready to review your case and advise you on how best to proceed. Our team will work hard to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. To learn more, call Ellis Injury Law right away for a free consultation.