As personal injury lawyers, our practice years have shown us that most people assume that a settlement is the end of a personal injury action. This is a misconception that isn’t true. Payment doesn’t always mean that a victim cannot file a lawsuit against the party responsible for their injuries.
There are instances when victims can still file a lawsuit after arriving at a settlement with the fault party. Our Atlanta personal injury lawyers can explain these instances in detail when you contact us for a free consultation. This article would attempt to shed some light on whether you can file a lawsuit after accepting a settlement.
When Can You Not File a Lawsuit After a Settlement?
When you agree to a settlement sum after negotiations, you will most likely sign a written agreement. The latter would free the fault party from any liabilities regarding the accident. The deal is in exchange for the money the negligent party’s insurance company would pay to settle the case.
It automatically sends a message to the insurance company that you do not have plans to file a lawsuit. No insurer would agree to settle with a victim who still plans to sue them. Thus, in addition to the settlement agreement, you will file a release form.
Another reason you can’t file a lawsuit is that the settlement money equals satisfaction for all your claims. The release form and settlement agreement are legally binding. Even if you later learn that your claim was worth more than the insurance company paid you or have future expenses from the crash, the settlement agreement stands.
You can’t claim foul play because the law expects you to do your due diligence before agreeing to an agreement. The onus is on you to carefully review contracts before signing. This is why you must work with experienced personal injury attorneys. The lawyer would go through the contract terms and let you know if it would benefit you or you’ve been cheated.
When Can You File a Lawsuit After Accepting a Settlement?
As a general rule, accepting a settlement sum is the end of an injury claim process. However, like most general rules, there is an exception. Below are the instances when you can still file a lawsuit after settling.
- When There’s an Element of Fraud: If you can prove that the fault party or their insurance carrier acted in a fraudulent and coercive manner, you can file a lawsuit. For a court to entertain the action, you must provide evidence showing the settlement agreement was done in bad faith. A personal injury lawyer can help you establish fraudulent intent and gather evidence to prove the same.
- When You’re Suing Another Person: If your claim is not against the person you settled with, you can file a lawsuit. The fact there is an existing agreement does not prevent you from suing another party who might have played a role in the occurrence. For example, a car accident victim might settle with a defendant to the extent of their liability.
After the agreement, they may discover that the car manufacturer or mechanic was partially to blame for the occurrence. After such discovery, the victim can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer or mechanic and recover damages. The only condition is to do so before the Statute of Limitation elapses.
What Should You Do Before Settling?
It is essential to know the exact worth of your claim to ensure you don’t shortchange yourself. To do this, you must follow certain steps before the negotiations and signing a settlement agreement.
- Seek Medical Attention: Getting treated after the accident would help determine the present and future medical costs. It would also help link your injuries with the accident, and the physician would be able to give an estimated cost of treatment.
- Consider the Effects on Your Job: Thoroughly examine the effects of your injuries on your job and whether you’ll be able to continue working. Also, calculate the sum of lost wages, and get an expert witness if possible.
- Gather Documentation: Get all the medical bills, cost of medical equipment, and timestamps for when you’re away from work. Additionally, gather photographs and other pieces of evidence to prove your claim.
- Hire an Attorney: This one thing most victims fail to do is hire an attorney, which leads them to trouble. Hire a lawyer before commencing the claims process, and have them represent you during negotiations.
Let Calvin Smith Law Help You!
At Calvin Smith Law, our team of personal injury lawyers has experience representing and getting maximum settlements for our clients. Let us help you get what you deserve. Contact us today for a free case review.