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Can You Reopen a Car Crash Case That Has Been Settled?

pen writing on white documentWhile there may be exceptions, the general rule is that once you settle a case, it cannot be reopened. This is because the settlement includes a section that releases the insurance company from further liability for the victim’s damages. There would be no reason for the insurance company to agree to a settlement without this language in the settlement.

Below, we discuss some of the exceptions when an attorney might be able to “reopen” a case that was settled. We also explain why it is so important to make sure a settlement provides all the compensation you need before you sign it.

If you want to make sure a settlement provides the compensation you need, you should strongly consider hiring an attorney to help you before you sign a settlement document. Injured victims who hire attorneys often recover more compensation than those who go it alone.

The experienced Minneapolis auto accident attorneys at TSR Injury Law have helped many car crash victims secure compensation for all their damages. There are no upfront costs for our services.

Why Are Cases Typically Closed After the Settlement is Signed?

Insurance companies do not want to deal with multiple claims from one injury victim over the same injury. That is why insurance company settlements include a release of liability. While the language of each insurance company’s release may vary, it will say you are signing away your right to file a lawsuit in exchange for compensation from the insurer.

The insurance company needs a reason to pay compensation. They may say they are paying compensation because you need it, and they want to help you recover from the accident, but the reality is they want certainty and to expand their profit margins.

The insurance company wants to pay out as little as possible to resolve your case. That is why they may offer a settlement early in the process, before the full extent of your injuries is known. If you accept a settlement early in the process, you may be leaving compensation on the table. The insurance company knows full well that once you sign the settlement, you cannot seek more compensation from them.  

While cases are typically only closed when the settlement agreement is signed, verbally agreeing to a settlement can be a bad idea if you are not sure the settlement provides all the compensation you need. The insurance company may try to hold you to your verbal agreement. That is why you should have an attorney managing your case and communicating with the insurance company on your behalf.

When May a Car Crash Case be Reopened?

There are rare instances when a car crash case could potentially be reopened after it was settled. For example, it is possible there may be significant technical errors in the settlement documents. Maybe a decimal point is out of place or there is a typo in the settlement amount. While it may be possible to simply fix the mistake, backing out of the settlement might also be possible.

Other reasons why a car crash case might be reopened include:

  • Defendant failed to perform – If you were supposed to receive the settlement within a certain number of days, but you have not received it, the case might be reopened because of the defendant’s failure to perform.
  • Settlement has not been signed – If you verbally agreed to the settlement, the case should not be closed until you sign the document. However, a verbal agreement could be interpreted as valid, which would make it harder to reopen your case.
  • Another party is at fault for some of your damages – This may not be the same thing as reopening your case, because you are not seeking compensation from the same insurance company you already settled with. You are seeking compensation from another at-fault party. This is a separate claim. An issue may still arise if you signed a general release, as opposed to a Pierrenger or Drake Release, which settled all cases even if you did not mean to.

It is important to note you cannot reopen a case because you need more compensation. It does not matter how severely you were injured or how much more compensation you need. Once you sign the agreement and compensation is paid out, it is usually not possible to reopen the case.

If your case goes to court, a jury verdict could potentially be appealed. However, appeals can only be granted for certain reasons. This could be thought of as reopening the case.

Unsure if You Have a Case? Call TSR Injury Law

Generally, you cannot reopen a car accident case that has been settled. That means you need to be sure the settlement provides full compensation for damages you have already suffered and damages you may suffer in the future.

At TSR, we understand how important it is to recover full compensation for your damages. Our goal is to help you get the compensation you need to move forward with your life.

Our firm works on contingency, so there are no upfront fees. The initial consultation is also free.

Call TSR today to discuss your situation: (612) TSR-TIME.  

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