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Reopening a Case After It Has Settled


Why You Could Benefit By Choosing the Right Lawyer in the First Place

Settling a personal injury case can take months to years of litigation, with both sides fighting for their own best interests; the same is true for cases that go to trial. In most cases, this involves your lawyers fighting against the insurance company for the best possible recovery in the circumstances. Once a final figure is reached and you’ve signed the necessary forms, it’s hopefully time to continue any necessary medical treatment and continue down the road of life.

But what happens if, after the case has settled, the injury worsens, new medical issues come to light that require further surgery or there are new medical bills? You may be inclined to reach out to your lawyer in order to reopen the injury claim in order to cover your new medical bills and worsening injuries.

Unfortunately, there is no possible additional recovery in most cases except for Worker’s Compensation injuries. Upon settling a case, defendants and insurance companies require that you sign a release of liability form which gives up all claims. This document sets the terms of the settlement, and either prevents you from filing a lawsuit if one wasn’t filed or ends the lawsuit if one was filed.

In most cases, the insurance company will include language in their release form that prevents any future claims related to the original case. This can mean that even if additional injuries related to the original claim are discovered, no further legal action may be taken on your part. This often includes language that states the settlement satisfies your original claim, along with any and all claims that you may have in the future.

Except in very rare cases, reopening an injury claim after the case has been settled isn’t possible. In some cases, the defendant must sign an affidavit stating that there was no other available insurance to pay for the injuries. If it later comes to light that they had a larger liability policy, the release could be voided and may be able to be reopened.

Another instance where the case could be reopened is if the insurance company commits fraud. While it is rare, it does happen and is a reason to reopen a case.

Displeasure with the settlement or verdict is not a reason for re-opening a case. That is why choosing wisely in your representation to start is so important. A good lawyer will think of injuries past, present and future where appropriate. Settlements and verdicts need to contemplate the future damages although they cannot always predict what the future will be.

Here at Levinson Axelrod, our New Jersey personal injury lawyers have the knowledge and experience necessary to make sure you get the compensation you deserve the first time around. With over 75 years of experience, our firm is one of the largest in New Jersey, and one of the best. If you have questions about your case, you can request a free case evaluation here.

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