One of the important but less understood aspects of a personal injury lawsuit is this: Once if has been closed, it is nearly always closed for good. So, it is critical to have a good attorney working for you and to make SURE you are satisfied with the settlement or judgment before it is finalized.
Why do people want to reopen a lawsuit? Typically, the plaintiff will discover the accident injuries are worse than they thought. Perhaps they are missing much more work time than they thought they would need. Or perhaps they need additional surgeries to correct an accident injury. They may need more money to compensate them for financial losses they did not know about when the case closed.
Many people are disappointed to find out once the case is closed, it really cannot be opened, even with a great attorney. Just remember that you have just once chance to pursue your personal injury claim with no second chances. Never settle less than you think you deserve. You cannot go back and ask for more later.
Signing the Release Form
They major reason that people cannot reopen a personal injury lawsuit is the release form you signed. When you agree to settle a case, whether you handled the case alone or with an attorney, you will have to sign a release. The form says that you have released the defendant from a future claim that is related to the accident. When you sign this form, you are signing away your legal rights in exchange for a sum of money. It is imperative to make sure that you are completely satisfied with the money you are getting.
This situation most often comes up when a plaintiff negotiates a settlement with an insurance company without the use of an attorney. In an effort to ‘save money,’ you may be tempted to forgo legal representation, thinking that you can save the contingency fee on the backend if you represent yourself. The problem is, you may end up settling for a lot less money than you could have. Sure, you did not need to pay the legal fee, but you also left a lot of money on the table. Without legal representation, you may not know what all you gave up when you signed that release form and cashed the check.
If you already signed a release, there is virtually zero chance the case can be reopened. But if you are still negotiating with the insurance company and did not sign a waiver – you’re in luck. You still have a chance to get more money if you are properly represented by an attorney.
But it happens a lot: People wait too long until they get an attorney at the table. They attempt to save money and handle the claim alone. They negotiate what they think is a good settlement, often because they do not understand how serious their injuries are. They are signing on the dotted line for far less than they could get.
But did you know that even if you have not signed a waiver, you still can lose your legal rights to sue? There is a statute of limitations in most states that limit the timeframe in which you can file a personal injury lawsuit. If you do not resolve your case or file a suit inside that deadline, you will miss your chance to file a suit.
Because you cannot reopen a case that you agreed to close, or cannot sue when the statute of limitations passes, you should get the money that you are entitled to on the first go around. You only have this one chance to hold the negligent person responsible for the injuries they caused you, so you should make it count.
How to Get What You Deserve
First, have a good personal injury attorney at your side. A personal injury lawyer can get up to five times as much money from a case than a typical layman can get alone. You can use our website to find a good attorney in your city.
Second, never wait until the last minute to file a lawsuit. Know what the statute of limitations is for filing a personal injury lawsuit in your state. In many personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury. In the case of wrongful death, the statute of limitations could be two to four years from the date of death.
Third, beware of what you sign. You should not sign a form or cash a check from any insurance company without reading it over carefully, and ideally having an attorney review it for you. If you are representing yourself, you could end up surrendering your rights when you sign the waiver document.
In conclusion, you have just the one chance to get the money you deserve from your accident. Your lawsuit cannot be reopened. In a case with serious injuries and loss of work time, getting a good settlement could be the difference between getting the medical care you need and going without. It is not unheard of for people to settle a case for pennies on the dollar. Then, their injuries turn out to be far worse, and they can not only not pay their medical bills – they lose their home!
Do not let this happen to you. Please use this website to find a good attorney in your area to represent your legal rights.