I was hit by a car along with two other people while crossing the street. It took my case almost 2 years to be resolved. Now, AFTER the case was settled, I'm finding out that I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, have to be treated in mental and physical therapy, have muscle spasms and nerve damage, in need of back surgery to remove a lipoma(tumor) that I accumulated subsequently to the accident as a result from the spot I was hit at, and may possibly need to recieve Social Security Disability benefits. I want to know if I can sue for pain and suffering now because the accident consequently led to these.
I have never seen a personal injury settlement agreement that did not include language providing that the settlement settled all present and future claims arising out of the incident which formed the basis of the suit.
It is a truism that lawyers' closing arguments include the proposition that "this is the plaintiff's one and only opportunity to recover damages arising out of the accident."
The short answer is, you have but one opportunity to bring suit and recover damages from the negligent parties arising out of an accident in which you were injured, and what you settled for is what you settled for. Typically lawyers wait some time to file claims for personal injury on the theory that there may be damages that have yet to emerge when the case first comes to them. And future medical expenses are something that every competent lawyer considers in recommending to a client whether or not to accept a settlement offered by the opponent.
So, no, you can't now bring another suit for new damages emerging from a personal injury suit you've already settled. If you were represented by counsel in the proceeding, consult with him or her and bring a copy of the settlement agreement you signed. If not, take your settlement agreement to competent counsel for legal advice concerning its legal effect.
Some states require that settlement agreements contain special language in large bold face type. In California I seem to recall a provision of law in Civil Code section 1542, providing that "A general release does not extend to claims which the creditor does not know or suspect to exist in his or her favor at the time of executing the release, which if known by him or her must have materially affected his or her settlement with the debtor." I am not licensed in California and so cannot advise you concerning the effect of the California law, but suffice it to say that I suspect competent counsel in California will be looking for such language in your settlement agreement as part of the process of determining whether there is any escape from your release.
Not legal advice as I don't practice law in California or hold California licensure. It's just my two cents based on some general provisions and principles of law. If you need legal advice, please consult a lawyer who holds California licensure. I practice in Vermont ONLY.
I feel bad for you. This is a question I get a few times a year. I can only give you general information. I've been handling this type of case in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding counties for over 30 years. Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, there is nothing you could do. I am assuming you signed a release, in order to get your money, and that release is going to bar you from making any additional claims. Usually, releases have specific language in them, which even goes so far as to say that you are releasing your claim for all injuries, even injuries that you may not be aware of. Sometimes you can get around a release if there is some type of fraud. The only way to know for sure is to contact a local attorney and review the matter with him/her.
You will need to review the Release you signed regarding your settlement. Typically, when you sign a release you give up your right to pursue any claims known or unknown in exchange for a sum of money.
If you were represented by an attorney for the settlement, contact him or her. If not, get a copy of your release and contact an attorney to determine whether there is anything you can do.
No, once you settle a claim and sign a release, the case is done. That is why it is inadvisable to settle a personal injury claim too soon.
If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
The settling of most cases means a written settlement agreement was signed (and agreed to) by all parties, and said agreement should say that the whole mess between them is now over....for ever... no tap backs.
Unless the agreement says otherwise, someone who has settler's remorse is most likely out of luck. Should one want his or her settlement agreement reviewed for such a flaw as the failure to include a full release of all claims (past, present, and future), one should bring a copy to a local attorney and pay said attorney for the time to review and explain.
Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
Attorney at Law, Physician, Broker
Fransen & Molinaro, LLP
980 Montecito Drive, Suite 206
Corona, CA 92879
www.fransenandmolinaro.com / www.888MDJDLAW.com
"When you need a lawyer, call the Doctor... Call Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D... Call (888)MDJDLAW."
* This post and all others I make on Internet are for informational purposes only. None of the information or materials I post are legal advice. Nothing I post as comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. While I try to be accurate, I do not guarantee accuracy.
** Fransen & Molinaro, LLP practices in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, and real estate law and does so anywhere in the State of California.
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