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Can You File a Second Injury Lawsuit if Your Expenses Are More Than You Expected?

Suffering a personal injury can be expensive, leaving you with high medical bills and lost wages. The average hospital stay in the U.S. is about 4.5 days, with a three day stay costing nearly $30,000. Combine these expenses with the cost of surgeries and rehabilitation, plus lost wages from being too hurt to work, and an injury accident can make you financially vulnerable.

If you find yourself in this scenario, you might be tempted to accept the first settlement offer from an insurance company for financial relief. However, you must also consider the possibility of your expenses surpassing your initial calculations. What if you face additional losses later? You may wonder if filing a second lawsuit to cover these unforeseen costs is an option.

Discover whether and under what circumstances you can pursue additional compensation for a personal injury, and learn how our team at Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers can help you get the money you need for recovery.

The Emotional and Mental Toll of Unexpected Medical Expenses

The aftermath of a personal injury can be a challenging time, marked by physical pain, emotional distress, and overwhelming medical expenses. The financial burden of hospitalization, surgeries, medications, and ongoing treatments add a layer of stress to an already difficult situation.

Mounting bills can trigger anxiety and depression, as victims worry about how they will afford necessary care and manage their other financial obligations. During this period, a personal injury lawyer can be a tremendous support.

A lawyer can communicate with medical providers and insurance companies on your behalf, handle complex negotiations, and fight to get you fair compensation. Knowing that a skilled legal professional is protecting your legal rights and financial interests can also provide invaluable peace of mind, allowing you to focus on your recovery.

Understanding Personal Injury Settlement Agreements

A personal injury settlement is an agreement where the responsible party compensates the injured person for damages. This covers the victim’s medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering due to an injury accident like a car crash, slip-and-fall, or medical malpractice.

When you settle a case with an insurance company, you usually have only one opportunity to resolve your claim. Accepting a settlement involves signing a release of liability form.

This form is an agreement that you will not pursue any further legal action against the at-fault party for any future complications or losses related to the same incident or injury. It means you are giving up your right to make additional claims in exchange for the agreed-upon settlement amount.

The same is true for civil lawsuits; once a verdict is reached by a jury or a judgment is entered by a judge, the case is considered resolved or closed. This means you cannot seek additional compensation or reopen the case to address future issues related to the same event.

Warning Signs of a Lowball Settlement Offer

When dealing with insurance companies after a personal injury, be aware of these red flags that could signal a lowball settlement offer:

Unrealistic Time Pressure: Insurance companies might push you to accept a settlement quickly. This urgency is often a tactic to prevent you from thoroughly evaluating the offer or consulting with a lawyer. Be wary if you’re told you must decide immediately, as it could indicate an unfair offer.

Vague or Incomplete Explanations: If the insurance adjuster provides vague or incomplete information about the settlement details, it’s a red flag. For instance, they might avoid explaining in detail how they calculated the settlement amount. Always seek clear and detailed explanations.

Minimizing Your Injuries

Insurance companies might try to reduce the payout by downplaying your injuries or suggesting that they are pre-existing conditions. For example, they might claim your back pain is due to age rather than your accident. In these situations, it’s important to gather medical documentation to support your claims.

If you notice any of these warning signs during your settlement negotiations, it’s crucial to consult with a personal injury lawyer. They can help you evaluate the offer, protect your rights, and fight for fair compensation.

The Importance of Accurate Damage Assessment

The irreversible nature of settlements and verdicts means you need to evaluate any settlement proposals, ensuring the compensation covers all damages—past, current, and those anticipated in the future—stemming from the injury.

Your personal injury lawyer can calculate a thorough compensation amount by taking the following steps:

  • Review Immediate and Future Medical Expenses: Your lawyer will assess both your current medical bills and potential future treatments. This ensures every aspect of your healthcare, from emergency services to long-term care, is accounted for.
  • Calculate Long-Term Care Needs: Your legal team will assess your expenses for continued care, including physical therapy, rehabilitation, or any required in-home care services. This evaluation is vital to ensure you receive the support needed for recovery.
  • Consider Your Ability to Work: Your lawyer will assess the impact of your injury on your future earning capacity and career opportunities. This assessment will take into account any work absences you’ve already experienced and the potential future effects on your earning potential.
  • Assess Pain and Suffering: Your attorney also calculates non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, and diminished enjoyment of life. This compensates you for the physical and emotional toll of your injury.
  • Evaluate Necessary Life Adjustments: If your injury requires modifications to your home or workplace, your lawyer will factor these into your claim. This helps you get the necessary resources to adapt your living and working environments to your needs.
  • Consult With Experts: Your lawyer will work alongside medical and financial professionals to anticipate your future requirements. This ensures that all ramifications of your injury are considered when determining your compensation.

There Are a Few Exceptions to This Rule

Although most injury claims are resolved once claimants sign their names and receive their checks, there are limited occasions where victims can reopen the claim in an attempt to get more compensation.

  • The Other Party Acted Fraudulently: If the at-fault party, insurance company, or legal counsel did something illegal or fraudulent in the course of the civil proceedings, you may be eligible to reopen your claim, especially if the fraud led to you receiving less money than you should have.

For instance, the insurance company attempted to use falsified or modified evidence to increase your level of fault, reducing your financial liability.

  • The Settlement Was in Bad Faith: Sometimes, insurers offer settlements to injured victims that not only lowball them but also ignore the coverage they purchased and are legally entitled to receive. While you may have received some money from their settlement offer, you could and should have been awarded much more based on the terms of your policy.

An example would be having your MedPay coverage reduced or denied without a valid reason.

  • Another Party Is Discovered to Be at Fault for Your Injuries: When multiple parties are at fault for an injury, they can all be held liable for your damages. If the statute of limitations on a specific accident or injury hasn’t expired, you can file an additional lawsuit against another at-fault party. This applies even if you’ve already filed a lawsuit or received a settlement from the first party.

For example, you were unable to stop in time after a driver cut you off because your vehicle’s brakes were defective. In this case, the vehicle manufacturer would be liable.

Alternatives to Filing a Second Lawsuit

If your case does not fall within one of the exceptions, you may have other avenues to pursue additional compensation or get financial assistance, including:

  • Pursue a Claim Against Another Party: If someone else’s negligence worsens your condition, consider taking legal action against them. For example, if a faulty medical device aggravated your injury, you might have a case against its maker.
  • Seek Insurance Compensation: Look into your and the other party’s insurance for extra coverage. For instance, if another driver caused your injury and their insurance doesn’t fully cover your costs, your own underinsured motorist coverage might help.
  • Negotiate With Healthcare Providers: Talk to your doctors or hospitals about lowering your bills. You could arrange a more manageable payment plan or ask for a discount on services not fully covered by insurance.
  • Look for Assistance Programs: Explore government benefits like Social Security Disability or, if you’re a veteran, VA Disability. These programs can offer temporary or permanent payments to support you if your injuries leave you with permanent disability.

Don’t Count on Exceptions—Count on Experienced Legal Help Instead

After an injury accident, knowing what your claim is worth is essential to getting you the settlement you deserve. Oklahoma City injury attorneys at Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers can use evidence to accurately assess your damages and get you a fair recovery award.

We have secured millions in compensation for our clients by building complete claims covering all their needs after an accident. Get it done right the first time, so you’ll get the money you need now instead of hoping you get a second chance. Contact us today for a no-obligation, free consultation, and learn how we can help you get the settlement you deserve.

Originally published December 27, 2021.