While some personal injury claims go to trial, most are resolved through an out-of-court settlement, often with an insurance company. The settlement provides an amount of compensation that was agreed upon by both parties.
Once both sides agree to a settlement, that is usually the end of the process. However, what if your injuries get worse or you discover other damages after signing a settlement? Can you pursue more compensation?
The answer is almost always no. Usually, settlement agreements contain a release from future liability. That means you cannot file a claim against the same party over the same incident.
Learn more about what a release from future liability means, along with the importance of making sure a settlement provides the compensation you need now and in the future. Even though you cannot go after the same at-fault party again, if other parties were involved, you may be able to file claims against them.
What is a Release from Liability?
Generally, the settlement agreement an injury victim signs will include a section stating the at-fault party is released from any further liability or financial responsibility for the accident in question.
When you sign, you are agreeing to this arrangement in exchange for the compensation you receive from the insurance company. Think of it this way: what incentive would there be to settle if the victim or insurance company could still be sued later?
Settlement agreements usually say your signature indicates the money you are receiving serves as a full resolution of your claim. There may also be statements about you agreeing to not continue pursuing compensation against the insurance company or at-fault party.
You might learn later your claim may have been worth more than you agreed to. However, the settlement you signed is still a legally binding contract and you cannot pursue additional claims.
Making Sure a Settlement Provides the Compensation You Need
It is very important to determine an accurate value for the damages you suffered before agreeing to a settlement. It is unlikely you will get another chance to seek compensation after agreeing to the settlement.
It is very difficult to determine an appropriate value of a claim without assistance from an experienced Harrisburg personal injury lawyer. An experienced lawyer has helped many people negotiate settlements. He or she has also analyzed injuries and damages in a variety of cases and has an in-depth understanding of determining the full value of a claim.
Your lawyer can help you gather the appropriate documentation, including medical expenses, medical records, documentation of your lost wages, and proof of non-economic damages like pain and suffering. When you discuss damages with your lawyer, make sure to inform him or her about all the ways your life has been affected. Your attorney can help determine all the damages you may be eligible to pursue.
Are There Exceptions When You Can Sue?
It is important to note there are rare exceptions when you may still be able to file a lawsuit after agreeing to a settlement. For example, if you can prove the other party engaged in fraud or coercion related to the settlement, you may be able to take further legal action. It would be on you and your attorney to prove fraud, coercion or some other form of bad faith.
Another reason you may be able to take further legal action is if you are suing another party besides the one you settled with. If some other party bears some amount of liability for your injuries, you may be able to pursue compensation from him or her. The other party would only liable for its percentage of fault in the accident.
One reason you may be able to pursue another claim is if a product manufacturer’s negligence contributed to your accident. For example, maybe you already filed a claim against the other driver. However, later you discovered a defective product may have contributed to the crash. You may have a separate claim against the manufacturer of the product.
Have Questions About Your Claim? Call Schmidt Kramer Today
The legal team at Schmidt Kramer has helped many injury victims secure favorable settlements for their damages. Our attorneys have a proven track record – more than $100 million recovered for our clients over more than 30 years.
We know personal injury victims often have many questions about their legal options and the potential value of a settlement or lawsuit. We proudly serve our clients on contingency, which means no upfront fees. There is no risk in meeting with us in an initial consultation to answer your questions and discuss potential legal options.
Schmidt Kramer. We are here to help. Call today: (717) 888-8888