When someone is injured because of the negligence of someone else, whether in a car accident, a slip-and-fall, or a motorcycle crash, the injured party is entitled to certain forms of compensation for their injuries, including, potentially, lost wages, reimbursed medical expenses and pain and suffering. Many times, these personal injury claims end in a settlement, where the injured party receives an agreed-upon amount of money for their injuries.
In most cases, but not all, once you’ve accepted a settlement, you no longer have the right to file a lawsuit for your injuries. Let’s take a look at when you cannot sue after a settlement, the do’s and don’ts of settlement offers, and what may allow for a settlement to be overturned.
When You Cannot Sue After a Settlement
If you were injured in an accident or due to the negligence of another person, it’s possible that, at some point, the insurance company of the negligent person will offer a settlement for your injuries—sometimes, even within days. When you accept a settlement, the insurance company will ask you to sign a written settlement agreement.
The settlement agreement will release the at-fault party from any further legal obligation. Essentially, when you sign the release form, you waive your rights to any further legal action and accept the money. This is designed to protect the insurance company from any further responsibility; otherwise, they would have no incentive to offer the settlement in the first place.
When you sign the settlement agreement, it is considered a legally binding contract. It is a promise that you make to not seek further compensation, even if you discover your claim was worth more, or your injuries are worse than expected.
Insurance companies are quick to make a settlement offer after an accident. Almost always, the first settlement offer is low and does not come anywhere close to fully compensating the injured party. It is your duty to review the settlement agreement before you sign it – once it is signed, you generally do not have a right to file an additional claim for compensation. This is why it’s important to have an injury lawyer on your side before you sign anything. An attorney can help you decide your next steps after an accident.
Do’s and Don’ts of Accepting an Insurance Settlement Offer
Because you may be prohibited from suing after you settle your claim, it’s critical that you take your time and be sure the settlement offer is fair before accepting it. If you are offered a settlement agreement after your injury, you should take the following steps:
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel your injury is minor, always seek medical attention after an accident. Some car accident injury victims do not realize they are injured after a minor fender bender. Visit your medical provider and explain the circumstances of the accident and let them provide a proper diagnosis. The insurance company may offer you a low settlement offer if they feel your injuries are minor, when in fact, they turn out to cause expensive medical care down the road.
- Consider the Impact of Your Injuries on Work: Some injuries may affect your ability to work. If the accident caused a knee injury, for example, and you work in a position that requires you to be on your feet for a duration of time, you may not be able to work. If your injury permanently prevents you from returning to your job, you may be able to pursue compensation for your lost earning capacity.
- Document Your Treatment and Recovery: Before settling your injury claim, be sure to keep track of all expenses, communication, and doctor’s visits. Having a detailed list of the outcomes of your injury can help you seek fair compensation.
- Consult with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer: An attorney can help you navigate the legal system and examine the settlement offer from the negligent party’s insurance company. Insurance companies have a team of lawyers on their side, and you deserve the same representation. An experienced and top-level personal injury law firm can provide valuable insight into the value of your claim and help with presenting your claim to the insurance company in the most favorable light.
If you are an accident victim, it may be tempting to accept a settlement offer, especially if you are faced with large medical bills. Remember, the settlement may not be enough to cover long-term damages. Once you sign the settlement offer, it can be difficult to seek further compensation. While not impossible, there are instances when a settlement can be overturned.
When a Settlement Can Be Overturned
In general, once you accept a settlement offer, you cannot file a lawsuit for further damages. The settlement agreement will release the insurance company from further financial obligations. There are a few exceptions.
Fraud and coercion are two examples of when a settlement can be overturned. If you feel the insurance company or defendant coerced you into accepting the offer, or if they entered into the settlement in bad faith and defrauded you, you may have a case. In Pennsylvania, the Unfair Insurance Practices Act protects you from unfair, discriminatory, or deceptive insurance practices.
You may also be able to sue after a settlement agreement if you discover there was another party responsible for the accident that caused your injuries. For example, if you were in a car accident and learn there was a manufacturer defect with the vehicle, you may be able to seek compensation from the company, provided you do so within the statute of limitations.
Personal Injury Representation in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
If you were injured in an accident and are offered a settlement agreement from the negligent party’s insurance company, reach out to the team at Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C.. Our team of experienced attorneys can help you negotiate a fair settlement to cover your medical bills, lost wages, related expenses, and pain and suffering. The best personal injury attorneys know how to fight for your rights and can help you understand the settlement agreement before you sign any paperwork.
We have been representing the injured in Lancaster, PA for decades and offer a free consultation for your injury case. We do not charge a fee for our time and are only compensated when we win your case. Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C.’s attorneys have been voted the best in Lancaster for the past 9 years, as part of Lancaster County Magazine’s “Best of Lancaster” annual survey, and we have over 170 Google reviews, all 5-star!
Reach out to us today so we can help you recover the compensation you deserve after your injury accident. We are available 24/7 and are ready to help you through the process. Call 1-800-HURT-NOW for a free and no-obligation consultation and discussion concerning your case.