You may have heard that after you agree to a settlement for your personal injury claim, you lose your right to sue the at-fault party. While this may be true in some situations, there are exceptions to the rule. Understanding these exceptions will help you better understand what your rights are.
Contact The Burkett Law Firm’s accident lawyers to learn what your rights are. We have also provided some information on the question, “can someone sue after insurance pays in Texas,” here.
When You Are Not Legally Allowed to Sue After Accepting a Settlement
You will be asked to sign a release form if you accept a settlement offer from the at-fault party’s insurance company. This form states that you relinquish your right to sue in the future by accepting the money.
You must sign this to receive money from the insurance company. After all, if you could still sue after receiving compensation, there is no incentive for the insurance company to offer anything.
Usually, the insurance company or other party involved will require the release form before paying. It is worth mentioning that this does not just apply to the insurance company for the at-fault party and your insurance company.
Usually, the language in the agreement will stipulate that you accept the settlement as full satisfaction for the claim. This type of language ensures you will not be able to seek additional compensation against the insurance company for the same incident.
The waiver you sign is a legally binding document. When you accept the money, you are signing away your right to seek additional compensation. Even if you discover your accident was worth more, you will not be able to seek additional money.
This is one reason you must carefully consider your accident and claim before signing anything. Having an attorney help you with this is recommended since they can work to ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible.
When Can You Legally Sue After Accepting a Settlement?
In Texas, when you accept a personal injury settlement, you also lose your right to sue in the future for the same incident. However, there are some exceptions.
One example is if you have proof that the defendant achieved the settlement agreement in a coercive or fraudulent manner. This is a classic example of bad faith. It is best to discuss this with your attorney to see if you have a viable claim.
Another potential exception is if you sue someone else. You can negotiate with one defendant and receive a settlement. The waiver you sign will likely only include their liability and interests. If there is another party who shares the blame for your accident and injuries, you may be able to sue them for additional compensation.
There are cases where you may be unaware of a second defendant. For example, after settling your lawsuit with the at-fault driver, you discover a defect from a part or vehicle manufacturer that was partially responsible. In this case, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the part manufacturer if you do so before the statute of limitations expires.
Steps to Take Before Accepting a Settlement Offer
Since it is possible you will lose the right to sue after your claim is settled, you must take the proper steps before accepting a settlement offer. Some of the steps you should take include the following:
Get Checked Out by a Doctor
After your accident, go to the hospital or your doctor to have your injuries assessed and treated. Finding hidden injuries and seeking immediate medical attention helps create a connection between your accident and injuries. Also, the doctor that treats you may provide information regarding any ongoing treatment surgeries or other medical services needed.
Consider the Impact of the Accident on Your Job
If you cannot return to work because of the injuries you experienced in the accident, you need to consider how much the accident has impacted your ability to work. It may be necessary to retain the services of an expert witness who can determine the true value of the injury to your earning capacity.
Gather the Needed Documents
Collect work records, photos, medical documentation, repair bills, and any other evidence you have related to the accident. You can use this to see the true cost of it.
Hire an Attorney
Having an attorney review your claim will help ensure the settlement covers all current and future costs related to the accident. We at the Burkett Law Firm can also review the release form given to you by the insurance company. This will help ensure you know exactly what you are signing and what you can and cannot do after you accept the settlement.
Receiving a Payout from the Insurance Company
Once you settle, you will receive a payout from the insurance company.
There are a few questions that our clients ask us:
- Why do insurance companies take so long to pay out; and
- How long does an insurance company have to settle a claim in Texas?
Unfortunately, insurance companies are working to protect their bottom line, and sometimes, it can take a while for them to send your payment. With our help, you will have someone helping to speed up the process so you can get your money sooner.
Contact The Burkett Law Firm for Help with Your Accident Claim
Personal injury law in Texas is complex. For many people, it is confusing, and without legal representation, you may make mistakes that cost you in the long run.
Contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation if you need help with your accident claim or settlement. We can discuss your situation and help you recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to.