You typically cannot reopen a lawsuit after agreeing to and receiving a settlement. Even if you need to have more surgeries or other forms of medical treatment in the future, you cannot reopen the lawsuit to seek coverage for these expenses. As a result, you should take care to avoid settling your personal injury case too quickly.
If you are injured in an accident, you may have a legal claim or suit against another party for causing it. They may be responsible for paying for your medical bills, your car repairs, your lost income, and pain and suffering, among other types of damages. However, you must take steps to include all your expenses and losses in your settlement, as you will be unable to come back later and get more compensation for your injuries.
Why You Cannot Reopen a Lawsuit After Settlement
When you settle a personal injury claim or lawsuit, the insurance company makes you sign a settlement agreement. That agreement contains a lot of information, but it always has provisions in which you waive or give up your right to any further legal proceedings. Therefore, when you sign a settlement agreement, you agree that the insurance company, the other driver, or any other potentially at-fault parties are no longer liable for the costs of your injuries.
This provision means that if you suffer further medical complications from your injuries, discover another related injury, or need additional therapy, you cannot seek further financial recovery. Likewise, if you failed to submit a medical bill for care related to your injuries with your claim or lawsuit, you are responsible for paying that bill on your own.
A settlement agreement is a contract between you and the other parties to your accident, so a court can enforce it. As such, most courts will enforce the settlement agreement and prevent you from reopening it, even if you have further injuries or losses related to the accident.
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Be Careful of Insurance Companies Who Want to Settle Your Claim Quickly
Insurance companies know that you cannot reopen a lawsuit after a settlement. As a result, the insurer for the at-fault driver or other party is likely to contact you very quickly when you are injured in an accident. An adjuster may contact you before you have recovered from your injuries or had all the medical treatment that you need.
Even if you are worried about medical bills and missing work because of your injuries, you do not want to accept an unfair offer from the insurance company just to settle your case. The settlement offered could be far below the amount of compensation that you might otherwise receive through negotiations or a lawsuit.
Insurance companies are not worried about you and your injuries. Their sole concern is making as large a profit as possible, so their representatives will try to talk you into the lowest settlement they can.
When to Settle Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
It’s important to reach maximum medical improvement before you even consider accepting a settlement. Maximum medical improvement (MMI) means that your injuries have improved as much as possible with medical treatment. In some cases, MMI may still leave you with a permanent disability or impairment that further medical treatment will not heal.
If your MMI means that you still have a permanent impairment, you can seek compensation for future expenses related to that impairment, including:
- Ongoing medical treatment
- Home health care needs
- Medical equipment
If you settle your case before you reach MMI, you risk not getting compensation for all your losses related to your injuries, either now or in the future.
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Getting Legal Advice About Your Case
Signing a settlement agreement before ever speaking to a lawyer about your case will not benefit you. The size of a settlement can depend on various factors, including the strength of the evidence against other parties and the amount of damages you experienced, including expenses for medical care. You cannot truly evaluate a settlement offer until you have all the information that you need.
A lawyer from our firm can help gather all the evidence you need to prove your claim and document your medical expenses. Once our team has collected all that information, you will have a better sense of what would be a fair settlement in your case.
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Contact Us For Help with Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
Many people do not realize that you cannot reopen a lawsuit after a settlement. As a result, they take the first settlement that the insurance company offers them, well before reaching maximum medical improvement. However, if they need future medical treatment or their injuries do not improve as expected, they will be unable to receive any further compensation for their injuries.
Contact our team at Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers to get a free consultation about your case. Do not risk losing out on compensation for your losses. Call us today at (337) 777-7777 to learn more about what needs to happen in your case before you sign a settlement agreement. The initial consultation is free.
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