Most injured people often have their medical condition stabilized by the time they receive a personal injury settlement or court award for their injuries. In most cases, this means by then, you would have had a good idea of your pain or limitations and any future economic losses and medical needs.
But what happens if you get worse than what the doctors reported? Or discover that your insurer lied to you? Every personal injury case is different. If you already accepted a payout, you cannot reopen your case in most situations. However, there are some exceptions for reopening your PI claim in Illinois with the help of your Illinois personal injury attorney.
Is My Settlement Final?
Settlements for personal injury claims are meant to be final. Once you settle your case, it is interpreted as you waiving your right to a personal injury hearing. Moreover, if you and the defendant agreed on a settlement amount and went ahead and signed a release, it means you absolved them of any future claims connected to that accident.
Once a person’s medical rights are closed out as part of their settlement, there is no way of reopening a case to get future medical coverage. What is possible to review is the terms of the contract. Illinois workers’ comp law, however, allows case reopening if the health condition of the injured person worsens. But this is only possible within 30 months after approval of the settlement.
In What Instances Could I Reopen My Personal Injury Case
It can be difficult to know whether your case can be reopened without looking at the specifics. That’s why you need an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney to help review your settlement contract. If you haven’t signed a release form or any documentation from the insurer, call your lawyer immediately to start the process of reopening your claim.
Multiple Parties Involved
It is common for any accident to have several liable parties. For example, a Chicago car collision injury could have been caused by the negligent party. Besides the negligent driver, their car could have been defective, or perhaps the road was poorly maintained.
In such cases, the car manufacturers or municipality in charge of maintaining roadways could also be held liable. Even with a settled claim against the negligent driver, you could still pursue a settlement claim against the other responsible parties. However, this will highly depend on the terms used in your release. Some releases have words that prohibit an accident victim from pursuing additional claims associated with the accident.
The best route to take, if you have multiple responsible parties, is to involve a skilled PI attorney in Illinois during the early stages of your personal injury case. That way, you won’t have to worry about reopening your claim later.
Fraudulent or Deceptive Settlement Process
Insurers should treat your claim in good faith. But if an agreement was reached amidst lies, deception, and harassment, the case may be reopened. Your Illinois personal injury lawyer might help you seek financial compensation if your case was mishandled.
You cannot reopen a claim that was settled in bad faith. However, the guilty insurer could be found responsible, if discovered that you were tricked or coerced into accepting a lower settlement.
What Are the Requirements for Reopening a Personal Injury Claim?
You must be able to show that your health condition has significantly deteriorated after receiving your initial settlement. Similarly, the worsened condition should be able to be linked to your original injury.
How Can I Reopen My Personal Injury Case?
If you were injured at work, get in touch with a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer first. Then contact the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission who will give you an Application for Adjustment of Claim form.
Since you will be requested to provide supporting documents, it’s best to have them ready. You may have to ask your doctor to write a report that indicates;
- How your health has worsened
- The attribution of the worsening condition to the original injury
- What are the recommendations
If your application is accepted, you will have a hearing where you will have to say why you need the case reopened and what you’ll benefit out of it.
Can a Default Judgment Ruling Be Challenged?
Sometimes a judge can give a ruling in court even after the defendant fails to appear in court. Illinois gives 30 days for a defendant to appear in court or otherwise submit a response. If this party fails to do so within the time allotted, a default judgment will be entered against the defendant.
This means an injured person can still collect compensation, if the defendant fails to comply with the set court rules. However, the defendant can reopen the case even after a default judgment has been entered.
Can I Just Take My Case to Trial Even After Settling?
Most personal injury cases are settled outside the courts. Once a case is settled with a defendant, there will likely be no trial against that defendant. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on which way to go. A settlement will likely result in receiving a quicker, but not maximum, compensation. Conversely, a trial can be unpredictable and may fail to give the desired outcome.
Learn About Your Legal Rights from a Legal Professional
Reopening a personal injury case in Illinois can be an uphill task. Even in accidents that appear cut and dry, the laws could disfavor you and award you compensation that is less than what you deserve. But you can dramatically increase your odds of receiving a claim modification by having a reliable personal injury lawyer on your side.
Don’t let the nuances of Illinois personal injury law stop you from receiving what you deserve. Even if you have already settled a claim, you might still have a limited chance to reopen your case. If you are wondering whether this would apply to your case, start by scheduling a free consultation with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer near you.