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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

Can a Personal Injury Case be Reopened?

If you have been injured in an personal injury accident, hopefully your case will resolve quickly. Sometimes, however, reopening a injury case becomes critical to making sure that adequate compensation can be awarded. The question of whether your case can be reopened depends on the specific details of your case. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer, however, can review your case to determine if it can be reopened.

The Closing of Personal Injury Cases

Courts in New York close lawsuits by filing dismissals or judgments, which can be filed either “with prejudice” or “without prejudice.” How a court closes a personal injury case determines whether or not reopening is a possibility. A case that is dismissed with prejudice cannot be reopened, but a case that is dismissed without prejudice can often be reopened.

The Role of Settlements in Personal Injury Cases

When a personal injury case is settled, the accident victim agrees to accept compensation from the responsible party for the damages that the victim faced in exchange for discontinuing the pursuit of legal action. As part of a settlement, an accident victim will almost always sign a release of liability. It is a good idea that accident victims sufficiently review the terms of the release before signing it. Additionally, it is often a good idea to have your lawyer present at the signing of the release to make sure that each of the terms that you accept is agreeable. Once a release of liability is signed, remember that you have absolved the opposing party from any further liability for the damage resulting from an accident.

Deciding Whether to Pursue a Settlement or Trial

If a settlement is agreed on before a case has the opportunity to proceed to trial, no trial will occur. A settlement can also be reached at any point before a jury reaches a verdict. Ultimately, the decision about whether to accept a settlement relies on the person who initiated a lawsuit. An experienced personal injury attorney, however, can often help an accident victim decide on what would be in their best interest.

The Steps Involved With Reopening an Injury Settlement

 The steps involved with reopening a settlement depend on the part of the compensation process in which a person is currently involved. If an informal settlement exists, it might be necessary to file a legal claim so the case can be reopened. If you have already initiated a personal injury lawsuit, you must make a motion to the court to either set aside a judgment or pursue a new trial.

The Impact of Liability Releases

Most times, when an accident victim signs a liability release, the case has ended. This is why it is critical to obtain the assistance of a skilled Long Island accident attorney before you decide to sign a release discharging the responsible party from any liability. When a release is signed, with few exceptions, the case has ended and the person pursuing compensation will not be permitted to reopen a claim. Additionally, if a case is resolved before a lawsuit is initiated, an accident victim cannot decide to press charges against the responsible party for any damages addressed in the terms of release.

Some of the situations when a person might be able to pursue additional compensation for a personal injury even if they have already negotiated a settlement include if an accident victim has agreed to a settlement but has not the document yet. Another exception exists if a person signed a settlement agreement but the agreement lacked a release of liability and as a result, no release of liability has been signed yet.

Disagreeing With the Terms of a Personal Injury Settlement

Sometimes, a person can later disagree with the terms of a signed settlement. If the accident victim agrees to settle a case but does not agree with the terms of the settlement that is offered by either an insurance carrier or a defense lawyer, the accident victim might be able to later decline to accept the settlement altogether.

Remember, to settle a personal injury case, the accident victim must sign a release. Although most releases used in personal cases are straight forward, sometimes disagreements arise about how terms in the release should be interpreted. If this disagreement is substantial enough or involves the amount of compensation offered, an accident victim may later be able to disagree with the terms of a signed settlement.

Resolving a Car Accident Case Already in Court

An accident victim lawyer will often disagree with the early terms of settlements. Often, opposing sides will gradually reach a settlement with agreeable terms. If a consensus cannot be reached, the release might be taken to a court. A judge might then order the accident victim to sign the release. If the judge, however, disagrees with the terms of the release, the judge might cancel the settlement which means that the case would be reopened so the parties could reach a resolution.

When a Settlement is Reached Following an Accident but Before Initiating a Lawsuit

People injured in accidents should avoid signing releases received from insurance adjusters. This is because deciding to settle a case without a lawyer’s help is often viewed as a mistake. If a person is unhappy with the settlement offered, a lawyer can play a vital role in creating a strategy to make sure that the amount of compensation offered is increased. Hiring a lawyer to negotiate a release’s terms, however, is no promise that an insurance adjuster will reconsider the amount offered.

Obtaining a lawyer’s help does provide the accident victim with more legal firepower because the best lawyers have helped many other people in similar situations achieve more compensation. If an insurance adjuster declines to negotiate a release’s terms, a lawyer can help pursue a lawsuit. After a lawsuit is filed, a judge will be tasked with the decision about whether a release’s terms must be changed.

Speak With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

When personal injury accidents occur, victims can find themselves suddenly facing many complications including lost wages, large medical bills, and emotional suffering. Fortunately, our skilled Long Island personal injury lawyer can help you find the compensation you deserve. Contact Cohen & Jaffe, LLP for assistance.


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