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Can a personal injury claim be reopened? Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to reopen a personal injury claim even after it settles. However, it’s important to understand the grounds for reopening these cases and the steps for continuing your case to succeed and recover total compensation.

To reopen a personal injury claim or file a new one, consult the San Rafael personal injury lawyers at Kuvara Law Firm today by calling 1-800-INJURY.

Consider the Release of Liability

Before you consider reopening a personal injury case, it’s crucial to understand what the release of liability or release agreement is pertaining to your case. Both parties will need to sign this agreement upon reaching a settlement, preventing plaintiffs from pursuing additional compensation with the same case.

Generally, once a plaintiff signs this release form, he or she will be unable to pursue legal action with the same case, rendering it permanently closed. However, there are exceptions where individuals may successfully reopen their cases even after reaching a settlement agreement.

Because of the finality of this agreement, you should understand the terms and determine the true value of your case before signing any release of liability forms. If you’re asking questions like “How much is your truck accident worth?” and “Do I deserve more for my case?” you will need to consult with experienced personal injury attorneys before providing your signature.

What Are the Grounds for Reopening a Personal Injury Claim?

In certain cases, individuals may reopen their personal injury claim, but these circumstances are rare.

Specifically, you may reopen your claim after reaching a settlement if:

  • You still haven’t signed the release of liability
  • You signed a settlement agreement without a release of liability
  • The defendant, his or her attorneys, or his or her insurers navigated the case based on fraud
  • Another liable party is responsible for the accident, in which case you would open a new claim against the offending party

If you believe that fraud was behind a previous personal injury settlement, you will need to work hard to prove that fraud occurred. This is another area where a personal injury attorney can help.

Steps to Reopen a Personal Injury Claim

If you have the ability to reopen a personal injury claim after settling, there are steps to take that can increase your chances of succeeding with your case.

These steps involve:

Consulting a Personal Injury Attorney

The first step to take is to consult with and hire a personal injury lawyer to help handle your case. An attorney can confirm whether you actually have the ability to reopen your claim, or if you are unable to seek further compensation or a new settlement.

An attorney can also review the details of your medical treatment, including how your health has worsened since the case closed and other information that may help you seek more compensation.

Navigating the Case

Once you’re able to reopen your case, you will need to go through the entire claims process again, which is also where an attorney can help.

In the process of reopening your case, you may enter negotiations with defendants, attorneys, and insurance companies to get a fair settlement.

Navigating the claims process on your own can harm your case, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the tactics that defendants often use to reduce or deny claims. For instance, insurers may make an initial offer that’s lower than what your case is actually worth, leading you to sign a settlement agreement and a release of liability that prevent you from seeking total compensation.

An attorney will be aware of attempts to offer lowball settlements or fraudulently settle in another way. As such, it’s best to have an attorney by your side when filing an initial claim and reopening your case.

Can the Statute of Limitations Impact the Ability to Reopen a Claim?

The statute of limitations gives plaintiffs a limited amount of time to file a personal injury claim or another civil suit. In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury or one year from the discovery of the injury. This limitation means you have either one or two years to file a case, depending on your circumstances, after which you may not be able to pursue a case.

Generally, once the statute of limitations for a case has passed, plaintiffs won’t be able to open or reopen a case. However, you should speak with an attorney to determine if you can reopen your case after the statute of limitations has passed. There may be exceptions that can enable you to seek more compensation.

Damages in a Personal Injury Claim

Whether opening or reopening a personal injury case, there are several damages you may seek from defendants or their insurers.

The following are the primary types of damages involved in these cases:

Economic Damages

The first type of damages to consider is economic. These damages are the direct financial losses that personal injury victims suffer because of an accident or another type of incident.

There are several economic damages that can apply in these claims, including:

  • Medical bills, such as immediate and ongoing care
  • Repairs to damaged property
  • Modifications made to a home or vehicle to accommodate a disability
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Lost income and earning capacity

Typically, these damages are relatively easy to calculate and identify, contributing to the overall settlement. You might discover additional damages you hadn’t before the initial case, leading you to reopen the claim if you didn’t sign a release of liability.

Non-Economic Damages

Another type of damage you may seek is non-economic. This applies to the personal experience of the victim following an incident.

For instance, victims may sustain a degree of pain and suffering resulting from their injuries, psychological trauma, disfigurement, loss of consortium, and other difficult experiences.

While it can be more challenging to quantify and prove these damages, it’s possible with the help of an attorney. Often, individuals will maintain journals detailing their experiences.

If you still suffer personally and continue to experience new non-economic damages following a settlement, you could have grounds to reopen your claim.

Punitive Damages

In rare cases, plaintiffs could seek punitive damages with the help of their lawyers. These damages are different from the aforementioned compensatory damages, with the goal of punishing defendants and deterring similar behavior in the future.

Only judges and juries can award these damages in a trial setting, meaning you won’t be able to seek this kind of compensation in an ordinary claim. In addition, you’ll need to work harder to prove that a defendant was grossly negligent or had malicious intent warranting these damages.

Regardless of the type of case you want to open or reopen, an attorney can work with you to identify all damages involved in your case and include them in a settlement.

Get the Help of a San Rafael Personal Injury Attorney

In most personal injury cases, it’s best to work with an attorney who has experience handling these types of claims and lawsuits. An attorney can help you determine when you should sue for a personal injury and whether you have grounds to reopen an existing case.

An experienced attorney will ultimately help you identify all damages involved in your claim, gather evidence, and organize your case. As a result, you’ll have the knowledge backing your case that you’ll need to maximize your chances of success.

Lawyers with knowledge of personal injury law will effectively negotiate with insurers and other attorneys, making counteroffers until you reach a favorable settlement. If needed, an attorney can take your case to trial and attempt to win in a court setting, seeking punitive damages on top of compensatory economic and non-economic damages.

The key is finding the right lawyer with years of experience and a history of success. The ideal attorney will know the ins and outs of these cases and help you determine the total value of your case in a free consultation.

To reopen your case or begin a new one, consult with the legal team at Kuvara Law Firm. Our reliable San Rafael personal injury lawyers can review your case in a free consultation. Contact us today to connect with one of our attorneys and discuss your needs with us.

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