Did you agree to settle after suing the responsible person or business for a personal injury case, only to feel you didn’t get enough money to cover everything? Perhaps your injury or resulting condition worsened over time. Or maybe there’s another reason you feel your lawsuit settlement was incomplete or incorrect. If you are still suffering from significant injuries, you may wonder if you have any additional options.
This situation is not as rare as you might imagine. A reader recently asked if there are new steps they can take after this happened to them:
Reader question: “I’ve already sued with an attorney, but my injuries are still significant. What should I do next?”
Answer: In general, once you sign off on a lawsuit settlement, you can’t reopen the claim or sue the same defendant twice for the same injury or accident.
That’s because you signed a piece of paper called a ”release of liability” form that waived your right to additional compensation or further legal action. The one exception to this general rule is if you can prove there was fraud, error, or a mistake made in your original settlement agreement. However, any additional action must within your state’s statute of limitations. And even then, you must have good cause for reopening a personal injury lawsuit.
What Is the Statue of Limitations for Reopening a Personal Injury Case for Significant Injuries?
A statute of limitation is a law that prevents someone from starting a lawsuit after a set period of time has passed after the events of an accident or a crime. The statute of limitations for a personal injury case differs depending on which state you live in.
Most states of a statute of limitations of between one and six years. In Wisconsin, for example, it is three years. In Texas, it is two years. Statutes of limitation encourage timely prosecution or settlement of claims. They help the court systems resolve claims while supporting evidence is still readily available.
What is a “Release of Liability?”
A Release of Liability is an official (and binding) legal agreement between two parties. It states that one person gives up the right to hold the other legally responsible for current or future injuries, losses, and damages. People often sign Release of Liability forms after a car accident occurs. The party waiving their right receives compensation for doing so. This compensation, generally in the form of a monetary payment or payments, is also known as consideration.
If you received no compensation for your significant injuries, your grounds for reopening your case are good. That’s because without some form of consideration, no court will consider a Release of Liability to be a valid contract. Sometimes, both parties agree to waive the right to hold each other legally responsible for injuries, losses, and damages. When this happens, the two parties sign a mutual release agreement.
What if I’m Not Sure What I Signed?
Of course, your former lawyer might have used another name for this Release of Liability form. In your case, perhaps you signed a liability waiver form or a release of liability waiver. Regardless, a personal injury release form prevents liability and possible civil claims resulting from an incident that already injured someone.
IMPORTANT: If you are unsure about what you signed as a result of your previous lawsuit, it is a good idea to talk to a personal injury attorney to review your unique situation.
Personal injury release forms are usually signed after an injury occurs and a settlement has been reached in a lawsuit. These forms are legally enforceable when they are executed properly. The good news about your situation is that release forms are not guaranteed to be valid and enforceable for every situation. The enforceability of the form you signed depends on:
- Your state’s laws for liability releases
- The exact terms of the Release of Liability (if you signed one)
- What caused the injury, loss, or damage that led to your significant injuries
Not happy with your settlement and feel unsure whether your lawyer did their job correctly? It can’t hurt to talk to a different attorney. Personal injury lawyers will review your case for free to see if there is any valid reason to reopen it.
Talk to a New Personal Injury Attorney Today About Your Significant Injuries
Don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney in our network who specializes in these cases. They will be happy to review the details of your situation – including the forms or agreements you signed. Click this link now to get a free personal injury consultation with a nearby attorney at no cost to you.
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.