Can You Reopen a Personal Injury Case in New Jersey?
It is normal for accident victims to want to finish the personal injury claims process as quickly as possible. After an accident, you want to receive a settlement check and move forward with your life without delay. Rushing to accept a fast settlement, however, could be detrimental to your future. In general, it is not possible to reopen a personal injury case once it has been closed in New Jersey – even if you have settled for far less than your case is worth. There are some exceptions, however, for special circumstances.
Taking Your Time Is Critical
One of the most important tips during a personal injury claim is to take your time. While it can be tempting to rush into the first settlement offered to you by an insurance company, this could jeopardize your future. Insurance companies often aim low in their first settlement offers in the hopes that claimants do not know the values of their claims or don’t realize that counteroffers and negotiations are possible. Saying yes to the first offer often means being locked into a value that is inadequate for your injuries and losses.
Additionally, you need to wait at least until you reach your point of maximum medical improvement to accept a settlement. This is the date by which your doctor estimates that you will no longer recover any further from your injuries. Settling before you fully understand the extent of your injuries and whether you will have a long-term disability can lead to accepting a settlement that is less than you need for future foreseeable medical care. Depending on your injury, you could settle for substantially less.
Signing a Release of Liability Waiver Closes Your Case for Good
Most claimants cannot reopen their personal injury cases or insurance claims once they have been closed. This is because settlement agreements come with Release of Liability Waivers. These are legally binding documents where a claimant agrees to release the defendant of any further liability for the accident and injury in exchange for the settlement offered.
Once this document is signed, it is typically not possible to reopen the case, renegotiate a different settlement agreement or bring an additional claim against the defendant for the same accident. This is why it is imperative to be certain you are receiving fair and full financial compensation before accepting a settlement and signing on the dotted line.
Exceptions to Reopening a Personal Injury Case in New Jersey
In rare cases, reopening a personal injury claim may be possible in New Jersey. There are a few exceptions to the rule that could allow a claimant a second chance by reopening the case even after a Release of Liability form has been signed. They include:
- Proof that the defendant engaged in an act of fraud that impacted the claim or the terms of the settlement.
- Evidence that the liable party did not pay the agreed-upon settlement amount to the victim.
- Demonstration of a mistake in fact made during the personal injury trial that had a significant impact on the outcome of the case, such as jury misconduct.
The most reliable way to keep a personal injury claim in New Jersey open is to not sign the Release of Liability waiver. Otherwise, reopening a closed personal injury case is only achievable in extraordinary circumstances.
How to Successfully Resolve a Personal Injury Case
Before you close your personal injury claim by signing a Release of Liability Form, consult with an attorney at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C. We can review your case and let you know if we believe the value of the settlement is fair and accurate for the extent of your injuries and losses. If not, we may offer to represent you during negotiations with an insurance company to seek a greater settlement value. Our trial attorneys are prepared to take personal injury cases to court to demand justice, if necessary.