In most cases, once you settle your Virginia personal injury case, you cannot re-open it. There are exceptions, though, so you should always speak with a personal injury lawyer if you have questions about your case.
Why personal injury cases are final once closed
If you settle a claim with a defendant or his insurance company, you will likely sign a settlement and release agreement as a condition to receive payment. The release is a legally binding contract that says that you will not bring any future claim against the other party for the claims that the contract was based on.
If you file a lawsuit and it is concluded – either through a trial or if the judge ends the case by deciding a definitive question in one party’s favor, a legal principle called res judicata bars any future claims.
Exceptions that may allow you to re-open a personal injury case
What happens if you discover you have more losses than you were compensated for? There are a few special situations in which you may be able to revisit your case.
- Another defendant – If someone else – an individual, business, or another entity – may have been liable, you may have grounds to pursue a claim against them. For example, imagine that you settled a claim against a city because its employee caused a car accident that injured you. If you later find out that the vehicle involved had a defect that contributed to the accident and the statute of limitations has not run out, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
- Fraud – Like other kinds of contracts, if the other party enticed you to sign through fraud or coercion, you may have grounds to argue that the settlement agreement is invalid. If there is any evidence that the other party acted in bad faith, you should mention this to your personal injury attorney.
- Workers’ compensation – If your injury was work-related and your settlement was a workers’ compensation claim, you may be able to file a change in condition application if your condition worsens. To succeed, you will need to have evidence to prove a change recognized by the workers’ compensation laws.
Do not settle a claim without talking to a lawyer
It is always easier to achieve a favorable outcome by speaking with an attorney as early as possible. In limited situations, there may be ways to revisit your personal claim after it is closed, but your chances of receiving full compensation are best when you consult a personal injury lawyer before the case is complete.
The team at Rutter Mills has been serving clients in and around Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach for more than 50 years. We know what to look for so that you receive compensation that includes both your past and future losses. Call today to schedule a free consultation.
When you’ve been injured, you’ve got a lot at stake… but so does the insurance company. Walking into the court room with a serious lawyer makes all the difference. Watch our video to learn more about Rutter Mills.
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– Brother Rutter