Can I reopen an injury claim if I haven't cashed the settlement check?
In short, I was in a car accident and my car was totaled. I have settled and received and cashed the check for the loss of the car. Shortly after settling the vehicle damage claim, I settled with the insurance company for my injury and pain and suffering. I just received this check, but I have not cashed it yet.
Now I have started to feel discomfort in my back again. Can I reopen the this claim, or is it too late now that I have received a settlement check from the insurance company? Now that my injury is hurting again, I'm worried I'll need further treatment. What can I do? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Can I reopen an injury claim if I haven't cashed the settlement check?":
Alex (Oakland, California):
Unless you signed a Release sent to you by the insurance company, you do not have to accept the settlement and can reopen negotiations. In addition, be sure not to cash or deposit the settlement check.
While you have the right to refuse to settle for the amount offered by the insurance company, there is no guarantee the company will agree to negotiate further. For more information, review these final steps to getting your settlement.
Contact the insurance claims adjuster and tell the adjuster you are still suffering pain and discomfort from the accident.
Tell the adjuster you will agree to renegotiate the settlement once you have been cleared by your doctor and your treatment has concluded, or when your doctor says you have reached a level of maximum medical improvement. The insurance company claims adjuster may not be happy about reopening the claim.
Beware if the adjuster tells you the amount already offered was their final offer. If the adjuster uses those words, you should consider accepting the settlement amount and go ahead and deposit the check, or consider filing a lawsuit. Claims adjusters rarely use the words "final offer" unless they mean it.
If you decide to go ahead and renegotiate the settlement agreement, be sure to remain cognizant of the statue of limitations in California. In California the SOL is two (2) years from the date of injury.
This means if you don't settle your claim or file a lawsuit within two (2) years from the date of the accident, you will lose your legal right to pursue the insurance company or the at-fault driver for compensation for your injuries.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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