Predicting how much money you’ll need to pay for your medical expenses after an injury is difficult, and you may eventually realize your settlement can’t cover all your bills. However, in most cases, signing a settlement agreement closes your case. A personal injury lawyer at Sieben Polk P.A. can help you evaluate settlement offers and negotiate for fair compensation before binding yourself through an agreement. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
At first, signing off on a settlement agreement may feel like a relief. However, you may regret it later if you accept a settlement offer without the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer. For example, if you accept a settlement offer after a car crash but later receive more accident-related medical bills, you may find yourself wondering: “Can you sue someone after settling with their insurer?”
Unfortunately, once you accept a settlement, you generally give up the right to file another lawsuit against the at-fault party in your accident, even if your medical expenses and out-of-pocket costs are much higher than you anticipated before signing. That’s why it is crucial that you seek legal guidance from an experienced personal injury lawyer before entering these agreements.
The seasoned team of attorneys at Sieben Polk P.A. has spent more than 50 years defending the rights of personal injury victims across Minnesota. Let us help you fight for a fair settlement. Before agreeing to settle with the at-fault party in your case, contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Can You Pursue More Compensation After Agreeing to Settle Your Injury Claim?
It is sometimes difficult to predict exactly how things will unfold in the months and years following an accident. Even if your initial recovery from your injuries goes well, unexpected complications might require more treatment and surgeries. You may also find that your ability to earn a living is more limited than you initially thought. Over time, the settlement you received from the at-fault party or their insurance company may no longer be enough to cover your expenses.
However, once you accept a settlement amount, you normally cannot seek additional compensation. Read on to learn why.
Signing a Settlement Usually Closes a Case
When you accept a settlement offer, the insurer representing the responsible party will ask you to sign a written agreement that releases them from any further liability related to your accident. In other words, personal injury settlement agreements are contracts in which an injured party agrees to accept a certain amount of money in exchange for forfeiting their right to sue the at-fault party for their injuries and losses.
For better or for worse, courts tend to enforce contracts when they are agreed to legally and freely—even if the results seem unfair. In other words, subject to very limited exceptions and regardless of whether you incur new medical bills or out-of-pocket costs because of your accident, new lawsuits against the at-fault party will fail once you agree to settle.
Therefore, working with an experienced personal injury attorney is essential to protect your legal rights. On the front end, talking to an attorney before settling will ensure that unscrupulous insurers do not take advantage of you. On the back end, an attorney can help you figure out what options are left after entering an agreement you are not happy with.
Potential Exceptions: When Can I File Suit After Settling?
Again, generally, you can’t file a lawsuit after settling with an at-fault party. Why? Because your settlement is essentially an agreement to not sue in exchange for a payout. But hold. If there were multiple at-fault parties involved, you could potentially file a lawsuit against other defendants who were not represented in the settlement agreement.
For example, suppose you were injured in a car accident, and the police determined the other driver recklessly exceeded the speed limit and illegally tailgated. You accept a settlement from the driver’s insurance company, relinquishing your ability to sue them for further damages.
However, suppose you later learn that the manufacturer of your vehicle was partly responsible for your injuries because a defective airbag in your car failed to deploy during the accident. You can no longer sue the at-fault driver. However, you could potentially file a lawsuit against the manufacturer if the statute of limitations governing product liability cases has not expired.
In cases involving multiple at-fault parties, it is also important to keep in mind Minnesota’s comparative fault statute. Under this law, injury victims can sue so long as their “fault was not greater than the fault of the person against whom recovery is sought.” The court will “reduce the amount of damages in proportion to the amount of fault attributable to the person recovering.”
Further, the law states that judgments handed down in court may include “separate special verdicts determining the amount of damages and the percentage of fault attributable to each party.” An attorney can help you determine whether this law allows you to sue parties who were partly responsible for your injuries but not covered in your settlement agreement.
When a Settlement Can Be Overturned
It is rare but not unheard of for courts to overturn personal injury settlements in Minnesota. However, because settlement agreements are contractual in nature, many of the same reasons for not enforcing other kinds of contracts may also provide a rationale for not enforcing your settlement agreement. Let’s take a look at two of those reasons.
Fraud or Coercion
If the at-fault party bribed you, threatened you, or somehow entered into the settlement in bad faith, a court may allow you to sue. However, proving that an insurer acted dishonestly or fraudulently to convince you to sign a settlement agreement can be challenging.
Insurance companies often convince vulnerable personal injury victims to accept low-value settlements that do not reflect the extent and severity of their injuries and losses. Even so, this does not typically amount to fraud or coercion. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are well-versed in this area of the law and can help you determine whether you were defrauded or coerced into your settlement.
Lack of Mental Capacity
Overturning your settlement may also be possible if your mental capacity was limited when you signed the agreement. For example, if you were suffering from a physical or psychological condition that made it impossible for you to make a sound and reasonable decision, your settlement may be invalid. This is especially true if the insurers were aware of your mental state and took advantage of it so that you would accept a lower settlement.
Your Personal Injury Attorneys in Eagan, MN
Sieben Polk P.A. is a full-service personal injury law firm. Whether you need guidance from a truck accident lawyer following a collision or from a wrongful death lawyer after losing a loved one in an accident, we are ready to help. Nationally recognized and locally rooted, our firm has what it takes to defend your right to full and fair compensation.