Can You Reopen a Personal Injury Case? The Inside Scoop on What’s Possible and What’s Not
Questions about reopening personal injury cases arise quite often, which usually involve two scenarios: either revisiting a previously declined case or reopening one that has already been settled or closed. If new evidence or altered circumstances emerge, you can absolutely get a lawyer to take on a case that was initially rejected. However, reopening a settled case is far trickier – and the chances are incredibly slim. Here's why and how you can steer clear of this pitfall.
WHY A SETTLED CASE CAN’T BE REOPENED
When you settle a claim for a personal injury case, you are coming to an agreement with the defendant. Part of this agreement means signing a release which basically tells the other side you won’t make any future claims against them for the same incident. In other words, you’re agreeing to put the matter to rest - for good - in exchange for a certain amount of money. This is exactly what you want to have happen if you’re getting the most money you possibly can. Unfortunately, people sometimes deal with the other side on their own - which means they often get taken advantage of by insurers and their lawyers.
Or, they realize later that their injuries were more serious than they originally thought, and they’ll need more money to pay for bills and lost wages. But the case has already been settled and more money won’t be coming. The end result is that you get less than what you deserve - and you can’t ever get more.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO WORK WITH A LAWYER
A lawyer can help make sure you get the maximum amount possible when you settle.
There are many reasons for this. For starters, lawyers understand the law. They know the ins and outs of your case and how a jury might see the circumstances of your accident. Settlement amounts are based in part on what kind of damages are likely if the case were to go to trial, and it’s impossible to evaluate that without the help of an attorney.
Another reason is because your attorney can use negotiation skills honed through years of practice to get the best deal. If you’re buying a car, and you want to negotiate with a car salesman for the best deal, you’d be better off getting another car salesman to negotiate for you, right? Well, it’s the same with attorneys - a lawyer can do a better job than anyone else at negotiating with other lawyers.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOURSELF
The first thing you should do to help yourself if you’ve been involved in an accident is to avoid signing anything. If you are offered anything from the insurance company, don’t sign it without letting someone else see it first. And definitely don’t sign a release.
Next, be timely. There are statutes of limitations involved and you don’t want to run afoul of those. Don’t wait until the last minute to get a lawyer involved, because cases take time to prepare before they are settled or go to trial.
Finally, reach out to a personal injury law firm as soon as possible. He or she will be your best resource and your strongest advocate. They’ll steer you through a complicated process with skill, experience, and confidence.
Your case can’t be reopened after it’s been settled, so to get the most you can before you sign on the dotted line, talk to an accident lawyer - it’s your best bet at becoming whole again.
The Wettermark Keith Difference: No Second Chances Needed
With offices located throughout Alabama, Tennessee and Florida, Wettermark Keith has an excellent reputation as one of the most accomplished personal injury firms in the country. Wettermark Keith’s reach is not only regional, but it also includes a diverse range of practice areas, including personal injury cases. Our firm operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay nothing out of pocket. Any legal fees and associated costs will be collected from your winnings at the conclusion of the case. If your lawyer is not able to obtain a verdict or settlement for your injury, you will not be charged any legal fees for their efforts.
At Wettermark Keith, we believe in taking cases personally. Our purpose is to practice with care and compassion - to tell our clients’ stories and make their voices heard. We do this by building strong relationships based on constant communication and an unwavering dedication to truth and trust. Winning cases isn’t our goal - caring for you is. Winning is just how we show it. It’s more to us, it’s personal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Once you settle a personal injury case, you sign a release agreeing not to make any future claims against the defendant for the same incident. This legally binding document essentially puts the matter to rest for good in exchange for an agreed-upon settlement. Unfortunately, if you later realize that your injuries were more severe than initially thought or that you need more compensation, you can't reopen the case and request more money.
Collaborating with an experienced personal injury lawyer provides you with invaluable legal knowledge and expertise, as well as negotiating skills honed over years of practice. Lawyers understand the complexities of your case and can accurately assess the potential damages if the case goes to trial. They also excel in negotiations with insurance companies and opposing lawyers, helping you secure the best possible settlement. Don't risk going it alone and receiving less than you deserve – work with a lawyer to maximize your compensation.
If you've been involved in an accident, there are several important steps you should take. First, avoid signing any documents or releases offered by the insurance company without having them reviewed by an attorney. Second, be mindful of the statute of limitations, which limits the time frame for filing your claim. Don't wait until the last minute to involve a lawyer, as cases require thorough preparation before being settled or going to trial. Lastly, reach out to a personal injury law firm as soon as possible. A skilled and experienced attorney will be your strongest advocate, guiding you through the complex legal process with confidence and expertise.
If you've been injured and are questioning the fairness of a settlement offer, it's crucial to consult with a personal injury attorney who can guide you in assessing its adequacy. Your attorney will meticulously document all related expenses, from medical bills to lost wages, and may bring in experts to shed light on specific aspects of your case. They'll also compare your situation with similar settled cases in your area to ensure you're getting a just amount. Remember, initial offers from insurers might lean low, so be prepared to negotiate and consider future costs arising from your injury. Being informed and supported by a legal professional can significantly enhance the fairness of your settlement.
If you've suffered an injury and find yourself in a situation where both parties can't agree on a settlement amount, it can be a concerning and stressful moment. Typically, if an agreement isn't reached during negotiations, there are several paths forward. One common approach is mediation, where an impartial third party helps both sides come to a mutually agreeable solution. If that doesn't resolve the issue, the case may proceed to arbitration or even a court trial. At this juncture, having a skilled personal injury attorney by your side is invaluable. They can present your case compellingly, ensuring your rights and interests are protected. Remember, it's essential to have someone experienced in navigating these complex processes, advocating for the compensation you deserve.
HERE'S WHAT TO DO NEXT
If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.