Can I Still Sue After A Settlement?
Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Sep 27, 2011 in Advice
The best personal injury attorneys have a good idea of whether or not a case is winnable going in, and of course many cases settle long before a court date is even set.
However, it is possible that at the end of a settlement negotiation, you'll feel that you've conceded more than you thought you should have.
If this is the case, you're unfortunately in a bad position, because almost no one will settle in court without a written and signed agreement stating that you will no longer pursue legal recourse. In short, it is nearly impossible to continue a lawsuit after you have settled. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule:
1. The defendant entered into the settlement in bad faith. This is a rare case, and it is difficult to prove. Essentially, you have to establish in your suit that there was fraud on the part of your opponent in the initial settlement. If you believe you've found that you and your attorney were defrauded in a past settlement negotiation, proceed very carefully, and discuss every step of the way with your attorney.
2. You bring a suit against a second defendant. This is more common, and has a higher chance of success. Often a suit will name more than one defendant as responsible parties in the accident, and settlement negotiations will take place with all of the responsible parties separately.
However, it is possible that you will find a third party to be partially responsible for your accident which you did not initially know of. For example, an automobile manufacturer could be found to have produced a defective part with a known defect which contributed to your accident.
However, all personal injury suits must still be brought before the courts within Indiana's statute of limitations (2 years after the accident). The bottom line is that settlements out of court are still legal proceedings, and after they are signed and sealed, they are binding contracts.
Before you enter into a settlement, be sure that you discuss with your attorney what you are and are not willing to settle for.
Your personal injury attorney is your guide and advocate in these proceedings, and it is important that you discuss everything with him or her.