When you get hurt because of someone else’s negligence, your mind may immediately focus on how much money your injury is going to cost you. It’s no secret that healthcare in America can be expensive. Even a single ambulance ride to the hospital can cost thousands of dollars, and overnight stays, surgeries, and rehabilitation can deplete many families’ savings accounts and send them into significant debt.
Combine those costs with lost wages from being too hurt to work, and that means getting compensation for your injury is your top priority next to getting better. However, many injured victims don’t fully grasp how much their injuries will cost them in the immediate future, fail to plan for their injury-related costs months or years down the road, or both.
So, when an injury turns out to be far more expensive than you anticipated but you’ve already received a settlement, are you allowed to file another lawsuit?
You Typically Only Get One Shot at Your Injury Lawsuit
Unfortunately, you usually can’t sue or file a claim for the same injury twice if you already received a settlement, whether it was given to you out of court or by jury verdict.
If the insurance company offers you a settlement, the contract will include language that releases them or their client from future financial liability once you sign and accept the money. The same is true for civil lawsuits—once a verdict is reached, the case is typically considered permanently closed.
That’s why it’s so important to always speak to a lawyer before accepting any settlement. An experienced lawyer will be able to help you determine whether the settlement offered is enough (hint: it’s usually not).
There Are a Few Exceptions to This Rule
Although most injury claims are over and done with 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 that was 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. An example of this would be attempting to use falsified or modified evidence to increase your level of fault and thus reduce their financial liability.
- The Settlement Was Entered into 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. In cases like this, 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 of this would be having your MedPay coverage reduced or denied without 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 a victim’s damages. Provided the statute of limitations on a specific accident or injury hasn’t expired, a victim can file an additional lawsuit against another at-fault party even if they’ve already filed a lawsuit or received a settlement from the first at-fault party. An example of this would be discovering that 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.
Don’t Count on Exceptions—Count On Experienced Legal Help Instead
Although some victims can file second lawsuits to get more money after their initial claims settle, the vast majority can’t. In the eyes of the law and insurance companies, accepting a settlement means “CASE CLOSED.” And even if victims are allowed to bring a second legal action for their injuries, that represents more time, energy, and money that could have been avoided with a more thorough review of the facts by an experienced lawyer acting on behalf of the injury victim.
That’s why it’s extremely important for injured victims to know how much money they need, who can be held liable, and what they need to win on their first go-around. At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, our Oklahoma personal injury attorneys have years of experience building complete claims for victims that leave no stone unturned.
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 free consultation.