Can I Still File a Lawsuit After Accepting a Settlement?
Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Feb 12, 2019 in Personal Injury
The majority of personal injury claims end in a settlement in which the insurance company enters into an agreement with you for the injuries you have suffered. The amount of compensation you receive is usually limited to the settlement amount, even if you later discover that you had additional expenses that stemmed from the accident or your medical condition worsens. You usually cannot sue after reaching a settlement, but there are some exceptions to this rule.
If you were injured in an accident and are being offered a settlement, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Phoenix for legal help. He or she can review your claim and determine if a settlement is in your best interest.
When You Cannot Sue After a Settlement Offer
In most situations when you accept a settlement, you are required to sign a release of liability. This document states that you are receiving a certain amount of compensation in exchange for forfeiting your right to further pursue the claim. It is a legally binding contract that you must follow to receive the settlement funds.
The release usually states that you promise not to pursue compensation for the same accident and you are releasing any claim that you have against the other party. The language may state that you are accepting the settlement funds as full satisfaction of all claims.
If you sign this release, you typically cannot take further legal action against the defendant or insurance company. An attorney can help you understand the terms you are agreeing to.
When You Can File a Lawsuit After a Settlement Offer
There are some exceptions when you may still be able to file a lawsuit after a settlement offer, but they are rare. These exceptions include the following:
If the settlement offer was the result of fraud or bad faith, you may be able to reopen the claim if fraud is later discovered. However, this is very difficult to prove. You may want to consider consulting with an experienced lawyer if you suspect fraud may have been involved.
Multiple Parties Responsible for the Accident
Unless the language of the settlement agreement states otherwise, it only releases the claim against one defendant. In some situations, there may be more than one defendant at fault for the accident.
For example, in a motor vehicle accident, there may be two motorists at fault for the accident or you later discovered that a defective product could have contributed to the accident. When you release the claim against one defendant, you still have the right to sue anyone else who shared fault in the accident as long as it is done before Arizona’s two-year statute of limitations expires.
What to Do Before Accepting a Settlement Offer
Because the potential stakes of accepting a settlement offer are so high, there are certain steps you should take to maximize the value of your claim:
- Seek medical attention – Get medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident to determine the full extent of your injuries. Follow your doctor’s orders and abide by his or her treatment plan. If you expect more medical expenses in the future, you might want to hire a medical expert who can estimate the potential value of these anticipated expenses.
- Consider the long-term consequences of your injury – Many personal injury victims underestimate the value of their claim because they fail to consider the long-term consequences of their injury. They may not be able to return to work after a serious injury, or they may experience pain and suffering that interferes with other aspects of their claim. An economic expert can calculate your expected earnings before and after the accident so that you can pursue compensation for the difference.
- Talk to a personal injury lawyer – A personal injury lawyer can review your claim to help ensure that it covers your current and future expenses. He or she can also discuss whether a particular settlement offer provides fair compensation or if you should proceed to a trial.
Contact a Dedicated Attorney for Legal Help Today
If you have been offered a settlement for your accident claim, it is important that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney before signing a release of liability. A skilled lawyer from Phillips Law Group can ensure that you understand the full extent of your injuries and the possible ramifications of signing a release.
We can discuss your claim during a free consultation. There are no upfront legal fees for our services unless you recover compensation for your case.
Talk to a member of our legal team by calling 1-800-706-3000.