Auto insurance companies are often eager to get car accident victims to sign a release of all claims. They can only rest easy knowing that you won’t be able to take any further legal action against them, such as suing for financial compensation for their insured’s negligence, once you sign on the proverbial dotted line.
That’s often why an insurance adjuster will continue pestering you, asking you how you feel, about the doctors you’ve seen, and perhaps your prognosis. They hope you’ll say that you’re done treating or feel fine so they can hurry and settle your case.
It can be tempting to rush and settle your car accident claim when insurance adjusters pester you day in and day out. However, doing so before you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and have been released from your doctor’s care can be detrimental to your financial recovery prospects in your case.
For example, your condition worsens, and you discover you need surgery after receiving a car accident settlement. You may wonder what your options are for getting those newfound medical expenses paid if you’ve already settled your car accident case. We’ll share what options are available in cases like this below.
How Might You End up Needing Surgery After Settling a Car Accident Case?
You may wonder how you’d find yourself in a situation having already settled your car accident claim yet, you need surgery.
For starters, it may have to do with your delayed injury.
The presence of or full extent of an injury may not be immediately apparent for hours, days, or even months after it occurs. You may not see a doctor immediately after your crash because you feel relatively fine and even sign a release of all claims thinking any minor discomfort you feel may wear off in time.
Also, as hinted at above, insurance adjusters tend to be overly aggressive in trying to settle any outstanding car accident claims. If you seem to have relatively minor injuries or initially see a doctor who creates a treatment plan and your commitment to following it seems to drop off, then an adjuster may reach out to you to settle to ensure there’s one less potentially costly open claim for them to deal with.
At the same time, an insurance adjuster may be persistent in attempting to get you to settle early after your injury’s onset because they hope to cap any potential monetary payout before it gets too far out of hand.
The scenarios described above are just some examples of why you might find yourself in situations where you’ve settled your car accident claim but need to undergo surgery after doing so.
Can a Car Accident Claim Be Reopened After It Has Been Settled?
When you settle a car accident claim, an insurance company has you sign a release of all claims. Generally, the language contained within that legal document would clarify how you’re not able to further sue the specified negligent motorist, auto manufacturer, or other specified defendant for damages stemming from the same accident. As you may suspect, exceptions to this rule exist, though.
Some scenarios in which you may be able to reopen a car accident claim include the following:
When Technicalities Surrounding the Release of All Claims Exists
You and an insurer can verbally agree to settle a claim, but neither party is legally bound to uphold it until it’s been properly executed (i.e., you, as the injured party, have signed the release). So, you may still have time to get in that surgery you need and later negotiate a settlement if you haven’t yet signed the release of all claims.
Additionally, if you discover the release contains inaccuracies, such as incorrect names or settlement amounts, this could also invalidate the release, allowing you to contest a previously signed one and renegotiate a new settlement—after you’ve undergone surgery.
Also, you may even be entitled to reopen a claim if you’ve signed the release of all claims and were supposed to receive the settlement check but never did. This scenario is an example of a bad faith insurance tactic prohibited under New Mexico Statutes Section 59A-16-30.
If There Are Other At-Fault Parties or Insurances Involved
There’s often not just one at-fault party when a car accident occurs in Albuquerque, but there can be multiple motorists, an auto manufacturer, or someone else also liable for what happened, as outlined above. It’s quite common for car accident victims to pursue claims against multiple negligent parties when appropriate. So, even if you’ve settled a car accident claim with one liable party, you may be able to open one with another at-fault party to recover compensation for that surgery you now need.
Additionally, in reviewing your auto insurance documentation, you may discover that you have medical payments insurance (MedPay) or uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. You may be able to tap into this coverage to pay for any surgery you require.
How To Identify Your Options if You Need a Surgery After Settling Your Car Accident Claim
While it’s not an ideal scenario, it’s quite understandable how you might find yourself in a situation where you’ve already settled your car accident claim, yet you find yourself needing surgery.
Reopening a closed claim with an insurance company if there were no notable technicalities can be challenging. However, mistakes happen more often than you think. Our legal team at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm can review your settlement documents with a fine-tooth comb to see if you have any options from this perspective. We can additionally review the specifics of your case to determine if there are any other liable parties or if you have any additional insurance coverage that can be pursued.
The car accident lawyers in our Albuquerque office have extensive experience representing crash victims from across our state and know the rights New Mexico law affords you. So, call or email us to get on our schedule for a free initial consultation so we can best home in on your rights in your respective case.