If you were involved in a car accident in Georgia and suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence, you probably filed a claim against them. You then received a settlement to compensate you for medical care and lost wages.
At first, you thought you received enough money to cover the costs of your care, but then found out that the settlement was not enough to cover ongoing medical expenses. You then ask, “can a car accident claim be reopened once it is closed?”
Let’s first understand what a settlement is.
What is a Settlement?
You go through a settlement if you are involved in a car accident. Settlements involve the injured person and the insurance company. The insurance company negotiates an agreement between you and the other party involved. This may contain a specific amount of money promised to be paid to you by the other party within a particular time. When you sign the settlement, the case is closed.
Why Would You Want to Reopen A Car Accident Claim?
The most common reason why you would try to reopen a car accident claim is because the injuries were worse than you originally thought. There is a legal term called Maximum Medical Improvement or MMI.
We always advise our clients to reach MMI before they sign a car accident settlement. Remember that you usually cannot reopen a claim you had settled. When you sign the agreement, you are saying that you release the person that instilled negligence against any future claims relating to that accident.
You are giving away your legal rights to file a car accident lawsuit later in exchange for the money you will be getting now. Therefore, you need to be sure that you are 100% satisfied with the terms and compensation you receive.
Can a Car Accident Claim Be Open Once it is Closed?
Unfortunately, you typically cannot reopen a car accident claim in Georgia. Whether the amount you received was insufficient to cover medical expenses, you lost more wages than you originally anticipated, or you regret accepting the settlement once a car accident claim is closed, it usually can not be reopened. That is why you should always hire a car accident attorney as soon as you are in an accident, regardless of how minor it may be.
You may think that you are saving money by not hiring a car accident attorney, especially if the settlement seems fair. However, attempting to save money in the beginning could cost you more in the future. While you didn’t pay a legal fee, you also gave up your right to recover any money should you incur more medical costs or lost wages.
Are There Any Times When a Car Accident Claim Can Be Reopened?
Typically, you can’t reopen a car accident claim that has been closed. You will have to speak with a car accident attorney, like those at Virguez Law, to know for sure. There are a few circumstances in which you may be able to reopen a car accident claim, but only a legal professional can tell you for certain.
1. You settle a claim against one defendant, but multiple parties are involved.
You may still be able to file a lawsuit against another defendant if more than one car is involved in the accident. Having an attorney look at legal documents before you sign them is the smartest thing you can do when you are in a car accident.
An attorney will review the terms and help you understand the details of your case. Many releases state that if you take the settlement money, you agree to give up potential claims against anyone for your injuries. Insurance companies want to ensure that the settlement means you can’t come back and sue others in the future.
2. You’re still in the process of negotiating with your insurance company.
If you are still negotiating with your insurance company and have not signed a release of liability but decided you would like to pursue legal action, you still can. Call the attorneys at Virguez Law if you are in the process of negotiating. By doing so, you are protecting yourself from losing any compensation in the future.
3. There is a technical error in the settlement agreement
If there is a technical error in the settlement agreement, such as the numbers, names, etc., there is a slight chance that you can reopen the claim. The agreement is a legally binding contract. If it contains substantial errors, it may be invalid even if you signed it.
4. There is no signed agreement.
If you have not signed a settlement, you may be able to reopen a claim provided that it falls within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for car accidents in Georgia is usually two years after the date of the car accident.
5. If you verbally agree to a settlement.
If you verbally agree, but do not sign a settlement, there is a chance you can get out of it. But verbal agreements are complicated because, in some cases, a verbal agreement is considered valid. Our attorneys at Virguez Law can review your agreement and help you determine if you have a legally binding settlement or can still renegotiate the agreement.
The valid agreement was not honored.
If you have a valid settlement agreement and the other party refuses to honor it, you may be able to reopen the car accident claim. For example, if you were promised a specific sum of money to be paid in a set amount of time and the deadline passes, but you still don’t have your money, you may be able to reopen the case
In most cases, you can not reopen a car accident case once it has been closed. Even if you were in an accident and found out you did not receive enough money to cover your medical bills or lost wages. That’s why it is important to hire an attorney the moment you are in a car accident. Your attorney will look at things like:
- The severity of your injuries
- The type of medical treatment involved
- The extent of your pain
- How you can perform routine daily activities
- Loss of income
The attorneys at Virguez Law are experts in handling car accident cases and personal injury cases. Before you sign any legal documents, always get advice from an attorney. If you would like to speak to one of our car accident lawyers, call Virguez Law at: 678-300-0000.