Can You Reopen a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Many personal injury lawsuits never make it to trial. It is almost always in the best interests of all parties involved to settle a personal injury lawsuit as quickly as possible to save time and resources. A settlement is also an opportunity for both parties to potentially benefit; the defendant may be willing to pay a little more than expected in exchange for a speedy resolution to the matter. Similarly, the plaintiff may be willing to forego a bit of compensation to get his or her money faster.
While a quick settlement may work in both parties’ favor in some cases, in others, accepting a settlement too soon may leave the plaintiff without the means of recovering compensation later if he or she discovers additional injuries or other damages unnoticed during the initial settlement negotiation. In most cases, the plaintiff’s acceptance of a settlement offer requires releasing the defendant from future liability for the claim.
What is Release of Liability?
A personal injury claim seeks to make a plaintiff “whole” again after an injury caused by negligence. Once a plaintiff accepts a settlement or receives a case award, he or she is basically stating that the award makes him or her whole again. This means the defendant should not be liable for another claim for the same damages, and a “release of liability” generally puts this into writing.
The bottom line is that it is not possible to reopen a personal injury claim after settling with a defendant. Additionally, if the plaintiff settled without filing suit, the plaintiff will not be able to file a lawsuit after signing a release of liability.
Can I Sue After a Settlement?
The only way to sue after a settlement negotiation is to back out before accepting the opposition’s offer and instead move to a trial. The risk is greater, but so is the potential reward. The trial value of a personal injury claim is almost always higher than the settlement value, and the plaintiff could secure much more compensation; however, trials take longer and will generate more legal fees for the plaintiff.
Some cases may offer several opportunities for legal action. For example, if a case involves multiple defendants and the plaintiff settles with one of them, this typically does not prevent the plaintiff from pursuing legal action against the other defendants. Your Los Angeles personal injury lawyer can help you determine what your best options are.
How do I Reopen an Insurance Claim?
Many personal injuries involve insurance claims, and an insurance provider will generally require a release of liability before a policyholder or claimant can receive a settlement offer. Every state has different laws and regulations for handling insurance claims, but generally most policies allow for at least a few years for a claimant to dispute a claim or revisit a claim.
Reopening an insurance claim can be a great way to recover needed compensation but acting quickly is very important. The sooner a claimant reopens an insurance claim, the easier it will be to prove that his or her newfound damages fall within the scope of available coverage.
Alternatives to Reopening a Lawsuit
It is possible for a plaintiff to feel cheated or deceived after listening to bad legal advice and accepting a settlement too soon. If someone in this situation believes that his or her attorney provided inappropriate legal advice or was otherwise negligent in the handling of the case, the plaintiff may be able to file a lawsuit against his or her lawyer for legal malpractice. The plaintiff would need a new attorney to prove that the first lawyer failed to provide a reasonable level of representation and that another lawyer in the same situation would have likely offered better advice.
Contact our experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney team for help with your case today! (310) 477-1700