No, generally you cannot reopen a closed personal injury case. Once you sign a release to settle the case, you are essentially signing away your right to pursue further compensation for the accident.
However, there are a few circumstances in which you may be able to reopen the case.
Nevertheless, it is important to build a solid case that accounts for all your current and future damages so you are not left in a position looking to reopen a closed case.
Signing a Release Ends Your Personal Injury Case
Signing a release is the moment you officially end your personal injury case. A release typically presents a settlement offer for a certain amount of money. But what many people do not realize is that you are also signing your right to pursue further damages away for a certain amount of money and other damages. Only you can sign a release, not your attorney.
Most releases usually dictate terms for what your claim and damages are worth including:
- Medical expenses: Based on the cost of medical bills, such as ambulance bills, medication, therapy and projected costs of long-term medical care if necessary.
- Lost wages: Reimbursing you for losses when you miss time at work and can include the time missed because of scheduled doctor’s appointments. Occasionally, it includes lost earning potential.
- Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering is not part of all settlements, but it is not uncommon. If you receive damages for pain and suffering, it varies depending on the extent of your injuries and length of your recovery.
Why You Might Want to Reopen a Case
Most people who want to reopen their claims do so because they believe they did not receive enough compensation for their damages.
One example would if you suffered a leg injury and discovered that you would require long-term medical assistance for the rest of your life. You rightly believe that you deserve a more substantial settlement to satisfy these costs, but unfortunately, you probably cannot receive one because you already signed a settlement agreement.
A release is a legally binding document that most courts will uphold barring specific circumstances.
Unfortunately, signing a release prematurely or discovering unexpected medical costs do not typically qualify as circumstances that allow you to reopen most personal injury claims.
It is for these reasons that it is imperative to have a personal injury lawyer on your side who can help you value your case and can advise you on when to accept a settlement offer.
Personal Injury Case Settlements Made in Bad Faith
One of the rare instances in which you can reopen a personal injury claim is if you believe the settlement is in bad faith. While it is difficult to prove, it is possible.
A settlement made in bad faith requires demonstrating that the defendant or insurance company defrauded you or your attorney at the time, which led you to settle.
If fraud is at play in your initial settlement, it may be possible to void the settlement. From there, you may be able to reopen the case and pursue further compensation for your damages.
Call a Personal Injury Attorney at S. Burke Law for a Free Case Review
Getting compensation for your injuries the first time you file a personal injury claim can be challenging. Attempting to reopen a previously closed claim is nearly impossible.
That is why working an attorney dedicated to getting you the money you deserve the first time is vital. When execution of your first personal injury case is correct, there should not be a need to reopen the claim.Our legal team thoroughly examines the circumstances of your accident but also ensures that your diagnosis of injuries is accurate. If you or someone you care about recently suffered an injury in an accident, we encourage you to call S. Burke Law for a free consultation. Schedule one today at 404-842-7838.