When You Need To Reopen a Car Accident Claim 

Maxey McFarland Law Firm > Blog > When You Need To Reopen a Car Accident Claim 
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The consequences of a car accident can be far-reaching and long-lasting, affecting your physical health, emotional well-being, and financial stability. Even after going through the claims process and accepting a settlement, you may find yourself in a situation where the compensation you received is insufficient to cover your ongoing expenses and losses. This realization can be particularly frustrating and stressful, especially if you’ve already signed a release of liability, believing that the matter was resolved.

Unfortunately, once you’ve signed a settlement agreement, you typically can’t go back for more money by trying to reopen the insurance claim. Insurance companies are reluctant to revisit settled cases and will push back against your efforts to seek further compensation.

Understanding the Claims Process

Before we dive into the reasons for reopening a car accident claim, let’s briefly review the typical claims process. After an accident, you’ll usually file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The insurer will then investigate the accident, determine liability, and offer a settlement amount to cover your losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you accept the settlement offer, you’ll sign a liability release, preventing you from seeking further compensation related to the accident. However, if you decline the offer and cannot agree with the insurance company, you may need to file a lawsuit to pursue the compensation you deserve.

Reasons to Reopen a Car Accident Claim

You might reopen a car accident claim in several situations, even if you’ve already accepted a settlement. These include:

You Haven’t Signed the Release

You can still pursue additional compensation from the insurer if you haven’t signed the release yet. If you agree to the settlement and then decide the amount the insurer offered is insufficient, you can change your mind about accepting the settlement. The claim will not technically be closed, so you can still negotiate for additional compensation.

Technical Mistake

If the settlement agreement contains significant errors, you could have them corrected, or you might be able to back out of the settlement. A technical mistake could be something like transposed numbers in the settlement amount, typos for the date of accident, and other drafting errors.

Misrepresentation or fraud

If you think the insurer or the at-fault driver engaged in fraudulent behavior during the claims process or misrepresented material facts in the case, you could have grounds to reopen your claim. Your request to reopen the claim will be more compelling if you can show that, because of the misrepresentation or fraudulent behavior, your settlement was reduced.

Duress

If you were forced to sign the settlement agreement, the contract is void, and you can reopen your claim.

Challenges of Reopening a Car Accident Claim

Reopening a car accident claim is a complex and challenging process. Some of the obstacles you may face include:

  • Statute of Limitations: Every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. If you wait too long to reopen your claim, you may lose your right to seek additional compensation in court. The threat of going to litigation is your best leverage against the insurance company. It’s crucial to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you meet all critical deadlines.
  • Release of Liability: If you’ve signed a release of liability when accepting a settlement, the insurance company may argue that you’ve waived your right to seek further compensation. However, there are situations in which a release of liability can be challenged. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this complex issue and determine the best action.

The Role of a Personal Injury Attorney

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Reopening a car accident claim can be a daunting task, especially if you’re still dealing with the physical and emotional aftermath of the crash. That’s where a skilled personal injury attorney can make a significant difference. An experienced lawyer can:

  • Evaluate Your Case: An attorney can review your case, assess the strength of your claim, and advise you on the best course of action. They can help you determine whether reopening your claim is possible and what challenges you may face.
  • Gather Evidence: To build a strong case for additional compensation, you’ll need compelling evidence to support your claim. An attorney can gather medical records, expert testimony, proof of false statements or fraudulent behavior, witness statements, proof of coercion or duress, and other crucial evidence to demonstrate that the claim should be reopened.
  • Notify and Negotiate with Insurance Companies: Your lawyer will notify the insurance company that you plan to reopen the claim and why. Insurers are not easy to deal with, especially when you’re seeking to reopen a claim. Your attorney can handle all communication with the insurer, negotiate on your behalf, and fight to reopen the claim so you can get the compensation you deserve. They can also help you avoid common pitfalls and protect your legal rights.
  • Represent You in Court: If the insurance company refuses to reopen the claim and you have valid grounds for doing so, your lawyer can file a lawsuit to pursue the compensation you deserve. An attorney can represent you in court, present your case to a judge or jury, and advocate for your best interests.

Reopening a car accident claim is difficult, but sometimes, doing so is the correct course of action. If you believe you have grounds to reopen your insurance claim, don’t hesitate to explore your legal options.

At Maxey McFarland Law Firm, we understand your difficulties when reopening a car accident claim. Our experienced Greenville car accident attorneys are dedicated to helping you navigate this complex process and fight for the compensation you need to move forward with your life. If you’re considering reopening your claim or have questions about your legal rights, contact us today at 864-900-4231 or use our online contact form to get a free consultation. We’re here to listen to your story, answer your questions, and provide the guidance and support you need during this challenging time.

Last Updated: 06-14-2024
Written By: Will Maxey