Approximately half a million personal injury cases are filed annually in the United States. According to the Department of Justice, 52% of them are from car accidents, 15% from medical malpractice, 5% from Product Liability concerns, and the remaining 28% are due to other causes.
However, as we at Haffner Law have often experienced, the most common results of these personal injury cases are settlements made out of court before the case goes to trial. The success rate of trial outcomes in personal injury cases is roughly over 60%, although it varies depending on the type of case.
Common Reasons for Considering Reopening a Case After Settling It
A common query following a settlement is whether you could reopen a personal injury case. This could be due to various reasons, such as:
- Incorrect estimation of total medical reparations or compensation for damages
- More wages lost than predicted
- Changes in circumstances regarding mental and physical health following the injury (such as increased pain and suffering)
However, if you have already agreed to a settlement and signed a settlement agreement, it is unlikely that you would be able to reopen the case.
Defining a Settlement Agreement and Release
Every personal injury case has a unique set of settlement terms. Both parties’ legal representatives would carefully define the settlement’s conditions and clauses. The settlement agreement may specify an amount of money for compensation and damages for what the affected person has endured.
As the name implies, a release agreement refers to a release of liability when both parties enter a settlement. The release may be part of the settlement agreement as a clause or an independent contract.
When you agree to a settlement, the release waives your right to pursue any other claims about the accident or incident. Should the case go to trial, you will be unable to file another lawsuit about the same accident.
Instances Where a Case May Be Reopened
There are a few exceptions wherein the affected party may reopen a case following the signing of a release or settlement agreement.
More than one party is legally liable for the accident
Though you may no longer pursue another case with the defendant you have settled with, you may reopen the case with another party responsible for the accident.
However, instances like this are rare and depend upon the verbiage used in the settlement agreement. There may be a clause in your settlement agreement that prevents you from pursuing a case against the other party as well.
Suppose the insurance company, the defendant, or their legal representatives had compelled you to settle the case by misrepresenting facts or providing fraudulent information. In that case, there’s a possibility that you could contest the settlement.
Upon proving that the settlement was based on fraud by the defendant, you may be able to revisit the claim. However, like the previous condition, these instances are uncommon. It can also be challenging to prove, requiring extensive investigation and solid evidence.
Discuss Your Case with a Trusted Personal Injury Lawyer
If you feel you have grounds to reopen a personal injury case following a settlement, your first act should be to consult a personal injury lawyer. They’ll discuss the facts of the matter with you and analyze the situation, along with the legal verbiage in your settlement agreement. A trustworthy and experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to tell you if reopening the case is a possibility.
The lawyers at Haffner Law are highly experienced in handling personal injury cases, with an extensive record of success. If you believe that you’ve been fraudulently led to signing a settlement agreement, contact us now for a free consultation so we can discuss your options.