Most people have a misconception about how the personal injury recovery process works. Some believe that they can no longer file a lawsuit once they’ve commenced a personal injury claim. Others think that they can still file a lawsuit even after they have received a settlement.
The truth is there are instances where you can file a lawsuit even after you’ve accepted a payment. Our experienced Atlanta car accident lawyers explain when you can sue after receiving a settlement in this article. Contact us today if you are ever a victim of a car accident.
When Can You Not Sue After Settling?
When you suffer injuries in an accident, it is customary to want damages from the fault party, especially since Georgia is a fault state. Therefore, after negotiating with a fault party’s insurance company and arriving at a settlement, they will request that you sign a written agreement. The agreement frees the liable party from any lawsuit or further liability from the accident.
The agreement is in exchange for the money you will receive as settlement. If you could still sue the fault party and their insurer after signing a payment agreement, there would be no need to settle. Thus, insurance companies, including yours, insist on a signed release form.
In the form or agreement, the insurance company would stipulate that you are accepting the money as “full satisfaction of all claims.” Those words are what assures the fault party that you’ll not return and file additional claims on the same accident. Keep in mind that this waiver is legally binding.
Even if you later find out that your claim was worth more, you cannot file a new claim. Similarly, if you discover a loss you should have asked compensation for but didn’t, you cannot ask to get compensated for it. For these reasons, you must do your due diligence and ensure you’ve taken all required steps before settling.
It’s also why we advise accident victims to work with experienced Atlanta auto accident attorneys. The attorney would review the settlement agreement and ensure you’re not signing away your rights. They will also guarantee you’re getting what you deserve.
When Can You Sue After Settling?
As already discussed, you cannot file a lawsuit after settling with the fault party. This is the general rule, but there is an exception. Below, we look at instances where you can sue even after getting a settlement.
Where There’s Evidence of Coercion or Force
For a settlement to be valid, the parties involved must have entered into it voluntarily. Hence, if the other party forced you to sign the waiver of release, you may use it as a ground to set aside the agreement. Similarly, if there is evidence of fraud on the fault party or their insurer’s side, you can set aside the settlement agreement.
You’ll need to show that you did not get adequate information from the other party. You can also claim bad faith insurance. However, note that bad faith and inadequate information are difficult to prove on your own. You need to work with an experienced auto accident attorney if you hope to spot and prove the settlement’s defects.
Where the Accident Involved Multiple Parties
If you have settled and then discover that other parties were involved in the accident, you can sue. You maintain this legal right unless the settlement agreement states otherwise. The preceding is based on the fact that the agreement only releases one person from liability and not all the parties involved.
For example, you might have a claim against all the drivers that crashed into you in a multiple vehicle accident. Similarly, if defective parts contributed to the crash, you might have a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer. Work with an expert Atlanta auto accident lawyer to identify all the necessary parties to your claim.
What Should You Do Before Settling?
To avoid losing the right to pursue additional compensation after taking a personal injury settlement, take the following steps:
- Seek medical attention immediately after the accident, and wait until you reach maximum medical improvement
- Consider the present and future impact of your injuries on your job
- Add up property damages and all out of pocket expenses
- Gather all the necessary documents needed to prove your claim
- Hire an attorney
Contact Our Experienced Auto Accident Lawyers for Help
At The Weinstein Firm, we have a team of expert auto accident lawyers ready to help you with your personal injury claim. If you have settled and feel cheated, we will look at the agreement to ensure you can still file a lawsuit. Our duty is to help you get what you deserve. So, call us to schedule a free consultation.