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Why You Can't Reopen a Lawsuit After Settling
Injury lawsuits become final the moment you sign the release of liability contract. So if you have already signed the release of liability, then NO, your lawsuit cannot be reopened. However, if you have not signed anything yet or have agreed to the settlement, but NOT signed the release of liability contract yet, then under some circumstances you can renegotiate your settlement because the at-fault party is still liable for damages until that release of liability is signed. Make sure you have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side when negotiating your settlements and signing the contracts to ensure you are getting a fair settlement that covers all of your damages because you will not be able to get additional compensation after your release of liability is signed.
What Is A Release of Liability Contract?
At some point in your life, you have probably signed a liability release or waiver so that you can participate in some sort of activity that can be dangerous for the consumer. These are very similar to the release of liability contract that you will be signing when you finish negotiating your settlement. Once the terms of the settlement have been agreed upon, then you will sign the settlement as well as sign a document that releases the negligent party from any further liability from the injuries you sustained during your accident. This means that once that document is signed, they no longer have any responsibility to pay for your medical bills, treatments or any other economic or non-economic damages that were a result of your lawsuit.
When you sign this document, your personal injury claim against the released person or entity is officially done and no more negotiations can be made, so make sure that you are happy with everything before signing on the dotted line.
Insurance Companies Want You To Settle Quickly
Many times in injury lawsuits the insurance companies will present a low ball settlement offer in hopes that the injured person will accept it before they know the full extent of their expenses from the accident, such as medical bills from ongoing treatments. Their intention behind this is hoping that they can get away with paying a lower amount to the injured party because when they can do this with thousands of injury lawsuits every year, they end up saving the insurance company a lot of money over time.
This is where a great personal injury attorney can help. They will know when the best time is to start negotiating your settlement and wait until all costs associated with your injuries have been fully calculated so that you don’t end up owing more than the settlement amount. Lawyers will recommend that you wait until you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement(MMI) before starting negotiations because then your treatments are complete and no more unexpected medical expenses can pop up. So make sure you don’t take a quick settlement from the insurance company just because it seems like a lot of money, always have a good attorney on your side and wait for the best possible moment to start negotiations so that you can get maximum compensation.
When Is The Best Time To Settle Your Case?
As stated above, waiting until you achieve Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is when you want to start negotiating your settlement agreement. If there are other outstanding economic damages or non-economic damages that still need to be proven and/or calculated after you reach MMI, then make sure to wait for all of those calculations to be final as well. You always want to put yourself in the best possible situation to receive the largest compensation package available and waiting for all of your final expenses to be known is how you do that.
When Can I Get More Compensation?
The one situation where you can renegotiate is when you have not yet signed the release of liability contract. This contract states that the negligent party is no longer responsible for any damages that were caused due to the accident and releases them from any further liability. So no matter where you are in the process of the lawsuit, as long as you have not signed the liability release yet, or agreed to sign one in a formal mediation, then you can renegotiate your settlement and ask for more compensation.
You do not have to accept any offers from the insurance company, but once you affirmatively indicate that you will accept an offer, it is legally difficult to renegotiate. Rejecting an offer or countering an offer with a request for more money signals that you are trying to keep negotiating and does not indicate a binding agreement.
If you indicate acceptance to an offer, especially in writing, there is a good chance that you could be stuck with it.
How To Know If Your Settlement Is Fair
Getting a fair settlement is always the goal, but if you don’t have all of the details needed then you are likely getting lowballed. What we mean by that is that if you are leaving out any economic or non-economic damages from your settlement, then you are not getting a fair settlement. You should always have proof as well as reasonable valuations for anything you are asking for compensation for. As long as you have that and you weren’t partially at fault for the accident, then you should be able to get full compensation for each thing that cost you as a result of the accident. This is how you’ll know that your settlement is fair, or you can work with an attorney that knows all about injury lawsuits and they will be able to explain each and every detail of your settlement agreement and let you know exactly what parts are fair or not. For more information on different types of settlements, check out this article comparing structured settlements to lump sum payouts.
What If I'm Not Happy With The Settlement?
If you aren’t happy with your settlement, make sure you let your lawyers know about this before you sign anything or before you tell your lawyer to accept an offer. Go over all of the details with your attorney so there are no surprises later and if you feel that your lawyer may not care enough about your claim to put the full effort in, then you need to do your own calculations and make sure everything is in your settlement that should be and that the numbers match. This shouldn’t be the case though, as most injury lawyers work based on receiving a percentage of your settlement to pay their fees, so you can be sure that they are doing their best to get you maximum compensation. Obviously, this all starts with what lawyer you choose to work with in the beginning, so make sure to do your due diligence and choose the lawyer that you feel is the best for your claim.
What Our Lawyers Can Do For You
At Rector Stuzynski LLC, your well being is our priority. This means that we will always do everything we can to ensure that you get compensated for the medical treatment you need to fully recover and that your personal injury settlement is fair and is enough to cover all of your expenses and then some. We do this by building a solid case for you while you are getting treatment to reach maximum medical improvement so that you can get back living your life like it was before the accident. Once you have fully healed and we know for a fact that you won’t have any new medical bills pop up, that is when we start to negotiate your settlement and not a moment before. Negotiating before this point is where most people go wrong and end up wanting to reopen their case, which isn’t possible. By making sure all costs have been accounted for, we can be sure that there will be no regrets later on and even worse, medical bills that aren’t covered by your settlement.
Don’t settle for a subpar law firm that just wants to get your claim done and over with as soon as possible. Hire an attorney that cares about your well being and really wants to make sure you come out of this accident with the best possible settlement so that at the end of it all, you aren’t left with expenses that you can’t cover. That is where our attorneys shine. Our clients always get the best representation from start to finish and we aren’t happy unless you are. So give us a call today for help with your case. We offer free consultations over the phone as well as in office visits with our attorneys from 8am-5pm during the week at our Colorado Springs, CO office. Feel free to give us a call or stop by our office, we are happy to help!