If you got hurt in an accident that was another’s fault, you probably filed an insurance claim and received a settlement for your injuries and expenses. At the time, the payout covered all your losses. However, a few weeks later, you develop back pain after an accident settlement. Your doctor confirms that the injury stems from the accident, and you are incurring additional medical bills above the amount you received in the settlement. What should you do now?
Generally, once you accept a settlement, it can be next to impossible to reopen a case and seek further payment for a previously undiscovered injury. However, there can be some notable exceptions allowing you to recover additional compensation. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free case review to determine if you qualify for damages after a delayed back injury.
Options for Reopening a Case
When injured individuals accept a settlement, they usually sign a release form. This document generally waives your right to seek further compensation. Since the release document is legally binding, you are typically out of luck when looking for additional amounts for medical bills or other expenses once you have signed off on a settlement.
When You Could Reopen Your Case
Although generally unlikely, there can be some rare exceptions where cases could be reopened, including:
Out of Court Settlements
Most personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court. Once you have signed a release agreement and collected the out-of-court settlement, your options for reopening negotiations are extremely limited. However, you could potentially have a case reopened if the at-fault party or insurance company entered into the settlement in bad faith. You could also file a lawsuit against any other parties at-fault for the accident, providing you have not signed a release form for the parties you intend to sue.
Depending on how the judge closed the case, you may be able to reopen a court case and sue the other party. A case is either closed with or without prejudice. When a case is “dismissed without prejudice,” a plaintiff can potentially re-file at a later date. However, when a case is “dismissed with prejudice,” it is concluded forever, and the plaintiff may not re-file or reopen the claim.
The Timing of Your Lawsuit Can Be Crucial
The right timing for your lawsuit is crucial for ensuring you receive adequate compensation for all your injuries. While it is always a good idea to seek legal advice immediately after an accident, you may want to delay filing your lawsuit until you have fully or partially recovered. Once you have recovered or reached maximum medical improvement (with a permanent injury), your doctors will better understand the future treatments you require and the costs.
On the other hand, if you decide to file your lawsuit immediately after an accident, your doctors might not yet know the full extent of your injuries and the medical treatments required in the future. Therefore, filing a suit too soon could lead to leaving money on the table and accepting a settlement that is ultimately too low to cover all of your damages.
The Statute of Limitations
While waiting to file your lawsuit can be advantageous, you also have to consider the statute of limitations in your state. The statute determines the timeframe available for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Deadlines vary from one state to another. If you file your lawsuit once the statute of limitations has run out, you will most likely be unable to receive compensation.
Since determining the right timing for your lawsuit can be tricky, consider consulting with a personal injury law firm to learn about your rights and the next best steps. Morgan & Morgan’s experienced and tenacious lawyers could help you fight for maximum possible recovery.
Examples of Delayed Back Injuries
Research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shows that the number two cause of disability in the U.S. is lower back pain. There are several types of back injuries that can potentially have delayed symptoms and cause chronic pain or disability, including:
Soft Tissue Back Injuries
Soft tissue injuries can include sprains, strains, and tears and can impact muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the back. Common symptoms of soft tissue injuries can include swelling, pain, tenderness, and muscle spasms. Soft-tissue injuries in the neck and back can be expected in car crashes such as rear-end collisions and others. While soft tissue back injuries are not generally severe or life-threatening, they can cause significant pain and a prolonged recovery.
Although whiplash is primarily a head and neck injury, it can damage the upper part of the spine, including the nerves, discs, and vertebrae. This can cause pain radiating down from the neck into the upper back and feel like a back injury. Other whiplash symptoms can include neck stiffness and pain, loss of range of motion in the neck, headaches, and numbness.
Spinal cord injuries and severing the spinal cord can cause severe and disabling injuries, including permanent paralysis. The impact in a car accident can also damage the discs, nerves, and vertebrae in the spine. An individual experiencing a severe spinal cord injury may never live an independent life again, potentially needing round-the-clock care for the rest of their life.
Slipped or Herniated Discs
Slipped discs can occur with forceful impact during a car crash. While neck or back pain can be a sign of a herniated or slipped disc, in some cases, there are no symptoms at first. When a slipped disc starts to press against a nerve or the spinal cord, symptoms like numbness and tingling, severe pain, and weakness can appear.
Back pain from an accident, particularly when chronic, can also lead to other conditions months or even years after an accident, including mental distress, depression, and insomnia.
Symptoms of Delayed Accident Injuries
Delayed injuries can present with signs and symptoms weeks or even months after the crash. Initially, you may not even make a connection between a bothersome headache or stiffness and your car accident. However, it is critical to see a doctor as soon as possible after experiencing new signs and symptoms in the weeks after an accident, such as:
- Persistent headaches
- Discomfort or pain in the neck and back
- Numbness and tingling in arms or legs
- Pain radiating down the back and legs
- Loss of range of motion
- Personality changes
- Extreme fatigue
- Sleeping too little or too much
Morgan & Morgan Fights for Maximum Recovery
Hiring a committed personal injury lawyer is perhaps the best way to ensure that you receive what you deserve, whether filing an insurance claim or lawsuit. Our seasoned personal injury lawyers know how to calculate all your past and present damages from the injury and estimate any future costs you could face. If you develop back pain after an accident settlement, we could determine potential options for additional compensation.
Proving Your Losses
Past damages are relatively easy to document, as you will most likely have medical statements, receipts, pay stubs, and other documentation proving your expenses. Future losses, on the other hand, can be tricky to estimate. An attorney will usually liaise with medical providers to determine the extent of your injuries and the medical treatment required in the future months and years. If you have a severe injury, you could also lose a considerable amount of income in the future due to further medical treatments, rehabilitation, and recovery. Your attorney will consider the expected future loss of income when calculating a fair settlement amount.
Handling the Insurance Company
Our experienced attorneys can handle all communication and negotiation with the insurance company responsible for paying your claim. This prevents the insurer from taking advantage of you or pushing you into a lowball settlement offer. Morgan & Morgan never settles for less. We know that our injured clients need a fair settlement to put their lives together. We always negotiate for what you truly deserve, whether in or out of court. Our attorneys know that reopening a case can be challenging and fight for maximum recovery, so you will not have to wonder about having to reopen your case in the future.