Can You Reopen a Settled Car Accident Case?

Published on May 28, 2024 at 6:41 pm in Car Accidents.

Can you reopen a settled car accident case?

You were involved in a car crash in Lexington, KY. This was your first time ever being involved in an auto accident, and you weren’t aware of how the way you feel immediately following a collision may be distinctly different from how you feel in the day following it. You also might not have been prepared for the influx of calls coming in from insurance adjusters after you or the motorist who struck you made an accident report and decided to go ahead and settle the case just to get them to stop. Either one of these scenarios (or others) could have led to you now, in retrospect, settling your car crash claim far too soon.

Now, you’re left with injuries that are far worse than you originally thought they were, and your accident-related costs are much higher now that all your bills have started coming in than you initially anticipated. If you’re curious about whether you can reopen a settled car accident case, we’ll share if you can below.

Your Chances of Reopening a Closed Auto Collision Claim May Be Limited

If you’ve been involved in an accident, especially one serious enough that you suffered injuries, then you likely have firsthand knowledge of just how unrelenting insurers can be in trying to reach you to “get your side of the story” about how the wreck happened, ask you about the extent of your injuries, and “get you paid” as quickly as possible for your initial, obvious losses — especially if you have Kentucky personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.

However, while it may seem like what’s behind insurers’ sense of urgency is “concern,” that’s not necessarily the case. Instead, it may just be an effort to know the extent of your crash damage and injuries and, in turn, their potential expenditures if you pursue a claim or lawsuit because you have extensive losses.

Generally, you’re unable to reopen a car crash claim once it’s settled. However, just there are exceptions to other rules, ones apply in situations like this, too, including:

  • You haven’t yet signed a release of all claims in your case: This is generally the document that an adjuster sends over after you or your attorney and the insurance company have negotiated a settlement offer. Essentially, the insurer has you sign this confirming you won’t take any further legal action against their insured or the auto carrier stemming from that crash once you sign that document.
  • There’s a typographical or other technical issue with settlement documents: It may be possible to have the agreement invalidated on the grounds that it contained factually inaccurate information. Should a judge agree it’s no longer valid, you’d potentially be able to reopen the case and potentially re-negotiate a different settlement.
  • You haven’t received any settlement check yet: The release that you signed may not yet be legally binding until you actually receive the check with settlement proceeds. So, if it hasn’t arrived to you or your attorney’s office yet, this may serve as an opportunity to reopen your case.

Alternative Options To Reopening a Previously Closed Claim With an Auto Insurer

It’s worth noting that there are potential options if a claim you already settled cannot be reopened. You may be entitled to pursue a different defendant for damages, which could be associated with one of the following:

  • Another motorist whose actions contributed to causing the accident
  • If you find that you have additional insurance coverage that may cover incidents like auto collisions
  • A property owner who didn’t properly secure their parking lot or garage or otherwise created an unsafe or hazardous scenario where a crash could occur
  • Government agencies, whether local or state and their agents who may have poorly designed or maintained roadways creating a situation ripe for a crash
  • You find that a third party’s actions (i.e., a car manufacturing defect or mechanic’s failure to make repairs) contributed to causing the accident
  • There are previously unidentified vehicle or other property damage stemming from the collision
  • You were a passenger, pedestrian, or other third party to the crash yourself

As you can likely tell, the above-referenced concerns are some of the “complexities” you’ll often hear car accident attorneys in Lexington talk about that make cases like this difficult for accident victims to handle on their own.

Here at Peterson Law Office, we typically like to take on car wreck cases in their early stages, so we have the best chance of collecting any necessary evidence to prove liability and so we can advise our clients what to and not to do to preserve the integrity of their cases. However, if you’ve been hurt in a car crash and have already seen your case through the negotiation stage and settled it, and you believe you meet one of the conditions above for reopening your claim, then reach out to us as well.

We offer free case reviews during which we can discuss with you what is motivating you to want to reopen your case and advise you whether you meet the requirements for doing so per Kentucky law.

 

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