How Blind Spots Cause Auto Accidents & Who’s at Fault
Posted in: Car Accidents
KNR Legal Blog
Many are tempted (understandably) to settle claims quickly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company after an Ohio car accident. But once your case is settled, your case is effectively over. You might even give up the right to pursue legal action against those responsible.
However, there are circumstances where it’s possible to sue after you accept a settlement. And while we’ll break down your legal options if you settled with insurance, it’s best to consult an experienced, nearby personal injury lawyer if you still have remaining damages.
Settling with the insurance company is one way to recover compensation after a car accident. Ohio follows fault-based insurance laws. This means you file a claim with the liable party’s insurance instead of your own no-fault coverage.
Settlement agreements resolve legal disputes and provide compensation for a victim. But when you settle with the insurance company, you must sign a release of liability document. This effectively releases them from further liability.
Suppose you settle for $20,000. But then your condition worsens, and you need further medical attention, like expensive surgery. The insurance company will not be obligated to cover these additional costs, as you have already settled your case.
The release of liability clause prevents any further legal action against the liable party. This does not necessarily mean you cannot file a civil claim against them without insufficient insurance. It is crucial to understand whether your insurance settlement includes a clause like this. You can prepare for renegotiations of the terms of your settlement if necessary.
Say you suffered debilitating spinal cord injuries. If your insurance settlement includes a release of liability clause, you may want your lawyer to continue negotiating with the insurance company. There is a strong likelihood you may require ongoing medical attention or support due to your injuries.
Generally, you cannot pursue legal action against the insurance company after your settlement has been reached, signed, and executed if there is a release of liability clause. However, there are some exceptions.
If the insurance company or liable party acted coercively or fraudulently in handling your claim, your release of liability clause and insurance settlement might be considered invalid. Your lawyer will gather evidence to prove the liable party or insurer was engaging in fraud. This may include communications exchanges, financial records, and other valuable documentation.
If your settlement agreement does not comply with Ohio’s legal requirements or does not have the necessary signatures, it may not be legally binding. Without a legally binding release of liability clause or settlement, you still have the right to pursue legal action against the liable party and their insurer.
If other parties were involved in the accident and share blame for your damages, even if you enter a settlement arrangement with a release of liability clause with one liable party, you can still pursue legal action against other parties who contributed to your injuries.
You may also have the right to file a claim with your auto insurance company if you purchased no-fault insurance or underinsured motorist coverage. However, filing a claim with your own insurer may not be well advised, as it could dramatically increase your premiums.
Most insurance settlements will be legally binding once the documents have the proper signatures. When you accept your settlement money, you agree to no more legal action with the insurance company. These documents are legally enforceable. That means you may be unable to sue for additional damages once a settlement is reached.
Most insurance settlements are permanent and preclude additional legal action unless exceptions or extraordinary circumstances exist. It is crucial to review these contracts with your personal injury attorney before you sign them.
Before you accept a settlement offer from the insurance company, make sure you review your offer with an experienced attorney who’s focused on your long-term interests. This way, you will understand your settlement’s total value, whether it is appropriate, and the implications of accepting an offer.
Your attorney will consider the longstanding consequences of accepting a settlement offer with a release of liability clause. They can help protect your rights as you negotiate with the insurance company.
Although settling may be the end of the line for your insurance claim, there may be opportunities to pursue civil action against those responsible for the damages caused by a car crash. Pursuing a lawsuit may be in your best interests if you hope to avoid having to cover the costs of your future medical expenses and any other losses the insurance company refuses to cover.
At Kissling, Nestico & Redick, we’ll pursue every avenue to recover the maximum possible compensation for your losses. Learn more when you contact KNR for a no-cost, risk-free consultation. Call 1-800-HURT-NOW today.