What If My Injury Gets Worse After a Settlement?
If you were injured due to another person’s negligence, Alabama law allows you to claim compensation from the at-fault party. According to research from the Department of Justice, only a small percentage of personal injury cases go to trial. Most are resolved with a settlement.
When settling a case, you accept an amount of money from the liable party’s insurance in exchange for dropping your action. But what happens if your injury gets worse after a settlement?
The short answer is that you generally don’t have the option to seek additional compensation from the at-fault party after accepting a settlement. Our experienced Birmingham personal injury lawyers explain why it’s essential to determine the full value of future medical treatment before agreeing to any settlement offer.
Why Might an Injury Worsen After a Settlement?
A doctor will determine when your injury has fully healed or has improved as much as possible. However, there are many reasons why an injury might get worse after a doctor decides it’s stabilized. Some examples include:
- You do not keep up with the recommended treatment.
- You stop treatment.
- The doctor does not provide proper treatment.
- It’s difficult to predict how some types of injuries will heal.
An experienced attorney will factor in the cost of future medical treatment and the possibility your injury may get worse when negotiating a settlement.
Do I Have Legal Options?
Settlement agreements include clauses that protect the at-fault party from future liability. As a general rule, you can’t pursue compensation from the same party you filed a claim against once you accept a settlement deal. This holds true even if your injury gets worse.
There are a few rare exceptions where you may be able to reopen a claim or file a new one against the same defendant. One of these exceptions is if you can prove that the other party committed fraud or acted in bad faith when reaching the settlement.
If you filed your claim against one party, and a second party also shares some liability, you could file a claim against the second party. However, the second party would only be liable for a certain amount of damages.
For example, a person is injured in a fire at a hotel. They reach a settlement with the hotel who was negligent in neglecting fire safety measures. However, defective sprinkler systems allowed the fire to spread. In this case, the victim might be able to file a claim against the manufacturer of the sprinkler systems if their injury worsens.
How to Get the Settlement Amount You Deserve
Once you accept a settlement, you can’t seek further compensation from the party you filed the claim against. So it’s critical to make sure you recover full compensation for your damages, including the cost of any ongoing medical treatment.
It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to try to undervalue claims and pay victims less than they deserve. Our experienced Birmingham personal injury attorneys here at Hare Wynn can assess the value of your claim.
We will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. We will advise you on whether it’s wise to consider accepting a settlement amount, although the final decision is yours. We are prepared to represent you in court if the insurance company won’t offer a settlement amount that fully covers your damages.
Evaluating Accident Damages
A settlement should compensate you for all the losses caused by the accident. This may include:
- Current and future medical bills
- The cost of necessary assistive devices or home modifications if you are left disabled
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
How does your lawyer assess the value of your claim and prove your damages in court? Your lawyer will use financial records like medical bills and receipts to show what the accident has cost you in the present.
To assess future medical costs, your lawyer may bring in medical experts who understand the additional care you may need for your injuries and financial experts who can determine the cost of these future treatments.
A medical expert can also explain to a jury how an injury will impact your quality of life.
Contact Hare Wynn Today
If you were injured due to another party’s careless or reckless actions, Hare Wynn can help. Our firm has been helping personal injury victims for over 130 years. We have recovered over two billion dollars on behalf of clients.
Schedule your free consultation today by calling 800-568-5330 or filling out our contact form. We work on a contingency basis, meaning you pay nothing until we win compensation for you.