After an accident, you may be eager to seek compensation from the liable parties. However, after reaching an early settlement, some accident victims experience delayed symptoms of their injuries that require further medical treatments.
Can you reopen a personal injury case and seek further reimbursement for your losses if this situation happens to you?
Below, one of our personal injury lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C., in Watchung, NJ, explains what you should expect after reaching a legal settlement agreement.
Can You Reopen a Case?
Before settlement, negotiations can continue for as long as necessary. Sometimes, this process may end in a trial. Other times, it may end in a compromise that satisfies both parties.
However, after settlement, it is not possible to reopen a personal injury case in New Jersey. Once you sign and submit a Release of Liability form to the court, you have very few options to pursue further compensation.
Exceptions and Workarounds
One way to keep a personal injury claim open is by refusing to sign the Release of Liability form.
Reopening a claim may be possible if the court discovered that the liable party engaged in fraudulent practices that impacted the terms or processes of the settlement. However, proving fraud without significant evidence and an attorney would be a long shot.
In some cases, a claim could possibly reopen if the liable party did not pay the agreed-upon restitution to the victim.
Why You Should Wait To Negotiate a Settlement
If you worry that you might accumulate more expenses in medical treatments or accident-related losses, you don’t need to start negotiations right away.
In New Jersey, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim. This period allows you to calculate your total losses and bring an accurate number to the negotiation table.
Many attorneys recommend waiting until you reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI) before negotiating or accepting settlements. MMI means achieving full (or near-full) recovery from your injuries. Waiting until you reach MMI before negotiating a settlement will help you determine if you will need to pay more in future expenses.
Filing a Release of Liability
A Release of Liability form states that all parties agree to the settlement’s terms. It prevents the plaintiff from pursuing further legal action after collecting compensation.
Usually, this contract allows the liable party not to admit fault on the record, even if they pay the victim the total amount of compensation they seek. It also may include the release of future liability claims.
While this document may seem like a roadblock for injured persons seeking to reopen their cases, it protects responsible parties from limitless financial obligations.
Avoid signing a release of liability without first consulting your attorney. It may be appropriate to keep your claim open longer so you can pursue the highest judgment for your losses.
Collecting Compensation With the Assistance of a Personal Injury Attorney
Remember that you have other paths toward reimbursement after an accident. Hire an attorney to help you file personal injury claims with relevant insurance companies or the Division of Workers’ Compensation. They will communicate on your behalf, so you’ll avoid self-incrimination during third-party investigations.
Your personal injury lawyers will collect evidence on your behalf. This way, you can approach insurance companies, settlement negotiations, or jury trials with proof of your losses. Having significant evidence is the best way to pursue the highest compensation possible since you won’t be able to reopen a case in the future.
An attorney can also help you calculate your losses, including potential future expenses that may contribute to your total payout. Many injured persons don’t realize they can include non-economic damages in their settlements, such as pain and suffering. A personal injury lawyer can help you stay confident about your legal strategy by reviewing all the options.
Call a Trustworthy Lawyer Today
Why wait if you’re ready to partner with a law firm you can trust? At Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C., we make it easy to find a personal injury attorney whenever you need one. Our team works tirelessly to ensure that clients have all the resources they need when pursuing compensation.
When you seek justice for your losses, knowing when to hire a personal injury attorney is just the first step.
Can you reopen a personal injury case? Not usually, but a personal injury attorney can advise you of the optimal time to pursue compensation. Call one of our lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C., in Watchung, NJ, at (908) 561-5577 for a free attorney consultation.